Date of Award

Spring 5-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educ Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Mitchell R. Williams

Committee Member

Laura Smithers

Committee Member

Kim Bullington


Nurse educators meet frequently in conference settings and peer groups seeking an answer to “How do you do clinical?”. The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological study was to explore faculty perceptions of clinical teaching experiences at the patient bedside at a level one or two associate’s degree nursing program by faculty within the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) that teach a rural student population.

Rural students struggle with work-life barriers that complicate their educational journey. This was compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic that presented new challenges to the way nursing education could be delivered creating a need for on line and blended learning environments. Many programs experienced a shutdown of clinical teaching facilities and were forced online. This new learning environment proved to be another educational challenge for rural healthcare communities.

This study explored faculty perceptions with interview sessions addressing clinical teaching practice over the last five years at the patient bedside with eight nurse educators from VCCS rural community colleges. A literature review revealed gaps in the research; the utilization of a comprehensive clinical teaching model and an overall disagreement on any one “best” teaching method. Three research questions on the teaching of clinical reasoning, safe patient care outcomes, and the experiences of new teaching environments during the COVID -19 pandemic were developed. Following hermeneutic analysis, the primary themes of Collaborative Teaching Practices, Traditional Teaching Methods, and Pandemic Teaching emerged with secondary themes of Concept Based Curriculum and Blended Learning Environments.

Academic nursing leaders and faculty should use this information to create a common clinical teaching model. Health care leaders should use this information to enhance bedside teaching practices to produce safe outcomes for patients in their care. Nursing educators should use this information to make strong clinical thinkers that will address the growing need for nurses in the United States in the wake of the most significant nursing shortage experienced in this profession. This hermeneutic phenomenology is the beginning of a much-needed change in clinical education. Nurse educators must develop critical reasoning skills in nurses that will care for an aging population using innovative methods for critical thought.