Strategies to Close the Theory Practice Gap Essay

Endless debates regarding how to merge theory and practice have characterized the relationship between theory and practice (Chapman & Clegg, 2007). Indeed, the territory that straddles the murky waters between theory and practice has gripped the attention of industry experts and observers who constantly want to improve their practice by eliminating this gap (Wilson, 2008). Nursing has perennially suffered from the gap between theory and practice. Educationists, theorists, and practitioners have proposed different strategies for eliminating this gap. This paper highlights them as a conscious effort to increase the scope of tools for nurses to use in bridging this gap.

Proposed Strategies
Change of Model
According to Rolfe (1993), it is difficult to fill the gap between theory and practice without reevaluating the nature of the relationship between the two. He proposed this strategy after evaluating different learning concepts of teaching and other practice-based disciplines. By doing so, he proposed that people should replace the traditional conception of theory as an agent for informing and controlling practice with a more progressive relationship that views theory and practice as two mutually enhancing models (Rolfe, 1993). Through this extraction, theory can inform future practice, thereby bridging the gap between the two.

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Use of Evidence-Based Practice
Ferrara (2010) says that with educational theory is the best way to bridge the theory-practice gap in nursing. Here, she says incorporating teaching strategies with nursing practices would help to bridge the gap between theory and practice. Proponents of this strategy say that some instructors have managed to realize positive outcomes in doing so by using constructivism (as a teaching practice) to improve their nursing experiences (Ferrara, 2010). The success of this strategy stems from the ever-changing context of best practice because what could be the best practice today could not be the best practice tomorrow. Since new knowledge emerges rapidly, to merge theory and practice helps to make better clinical decisions, thereby filling the theory-practice gap.

Theory-Nursing gap An Opportunity for Debate
Sellman (2010) implies that the gap between theory and practice is not a problem, but rather an opportunity for practitioners and theorists to engage in dialogue that could improve their different areas of specialization and reduce the insularity between the two. Therefore, Sellman (2010) believes that debating the gap would help in bridging the gap between the two.

Allowing Increased Freedom and Autonomy
In a study to investigate the nature of the gap between theory and practice, Wilson (2008) found that allowing increased freedom and autonomy in the nursing workplace (though daunting) is an effective way of bridging the gap between theory and practice. He argued that accommodating freedom in practice allows more room for nurses to implement different practice preferences, which in turn, gives room for nurses to adopt different theoretical preferences in their practice (Wilson, 2008). For example, allowing nurses more room for the network allows them to merge the gap between theory and practice (Wilson, 2008).

Spending more time in the Clinical Environment
Ajani and Moez (2011) say that one strategy of merging the theory-nursing gap is to allow nurse educators to spend more time in the clinical environment to update their clinical skills. The same strategy would allow them to understand the clinical environment and integrate the same experiences in their theory development efforts. Ajani and Moez (2011) say one way of making sure that these strategy works is by changing nursing assessment criteria to evaluate how students merge theory and practice. This assessment method is often absent in different aspects of curriculum development, further increasing the gap between theory and practice. Integrating it into the nursing curriculum would be a positive step towards bridging the gap between theory and practice.

According to Chapman and Clegg (2007), using education to merge theory and practice in nursing involves using specific skills and learning techniques to fill the gap between the two. This strategy also involves using specific skills and using good judgment and wisdom to close the gap between theory and practice. Some researchers have found that this method helps to improve the quality of care in nursing by merging different aspects of theory development in the profession (Chapman & Clegg, 2007).

Using Psychodynamic Skills in Small Work Groups
Similar to other researchers, Allan (2011) says the gap between theory and practice has continually hindered the growth and effectiveness of the nursing discipline. However, he believes that in small workgroups helps to integrate theory and practice (Allan, 2011). This strategy works by allowing students to reflect on the emotional issues in the clinical environment. For example, he proposes that allowing students to reflect on feelings in small and supervised workgroups could help them to understand both sides of the continuum theory and practice. This step helps them to bridge the gap between theory and practice.

This paper has for integrating theory and practice. Most of them come from the nursing discipline and demonstrate significant levels of success. While bridging the gap between theory and practice is a sector-wide desire in nursing, the appropriateness, or success, of applying these strategies largely depends on the nursing context in question. Therefore, it is imperative to evaluate the contextual circumstances, within the clinical nursing setting, that would support the strategy chosen.

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