Aim. This paper is a report of a study of the experiences of nursing and midwifery students in relation to infection control in their clinical placements and how these affect their learning. Background. Compliance with infection control precautions has been found to be low in many areas. Reasons for non-compliance include factors relevant to nursing and midwifery students, such as lack of knowledge and lack of a positive role model. However, there is little in the literature about how students experience infection control in placements and how this affects their own practice. Methods. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken in 2009 with 40 nursing and midwifery students. Analysis of transcripts was by Framework analysis. Findings. Students identified practices that they had observed and benchmarked these against what they had been taught at university and what was demonstrated by staff perceived as positive role models. Observing inappropriate practice affected student practice both positively and negatively. Students were reluctant to report poor practice due to fear of failing placements and not wanting to be identified negatively by staff. Students believed that practice supported by theory was important to provide them with a rationale for their activities and to support any complaints that they had. Conclusion. Poor practice in clinical placements can have a negative impact on student learning and practice and may therefore have implications for the practice of future nurses and midwives. In order to maintain patient safety, there needs to be more support for students who wish to identify poor practice.
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