Nurse educators are called upon to provide innovative experiences for students to prepare them to work in complex healthcare settings. As part of this preparation, developing observational and communication skills is critical for nurses and can directly affect patient outcomes. Visual thinking strategies (VTS) is a teaching method that has been studied in primary education to develop communication and observational skills. VTS has potential to improve these same skills in nursing yet only one study has been done including nursing students and none have researched what meaning VTS has for them. This research study sought to answer the following questions: What meaning does VTS have for nursing students? How do nursing students use it in caring for patients
? Students at a large Midwestern university in a Bachelor of Science program were recruited for participation. Students who voluntarily participated in a previous VTS experience were invited to participate in a second one, followed by an interview. Interpretive phenomenology was used to analyze the interviews and the following themes were identified: Feeling safe in learning
and seeing and thinking differently.
A literature review was performed to further expand these themes. Analysis of the findings and implications for future research are discussed.
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