A critical review of discourses surrounding practical nurse education in Canada




Butcher, Diane

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The author’s self-reflection on personal experiences teaching in a practical nurse (PN) program was the impetus for this discussion. The purpose of this analysis was to reveal and analyze relationships between nursing knowledge and PN education. Predominating discourses surrounding practical nurse education in Canada were identified and analyzed utilizing a post-structural, critical theoretical perspective. Utilizing a 2-phase dialectical approach, a literature review and subsequent analysis were undertaken to identify and discuss three predominating PN discourses, identified as variability/standardization discourse, practical nurse instructor discourse, and collaboration and relationship to knowledge base discourse. Critical analysis of the three discourses was framed by reflection upon critical questions, which were organized to reflect alignment and coherence among ontological, epistemological and ethical philosophical components. The exploration of the relationship between the three identified discourses and the larger discursive landscape highlights the multiple complexities inherent in the enactment of PN education in current contexts. The goals of this discussion included: to promote greater awareness of the ‘truths’ within PN discourses, to identify potential gaps in current research related to PN education, to identify potential gaps in knowledge informing PN education, and to promote greater awareness of the possibilities of collaboration among nurse educators.



critical analysis, PN education discourse, philosophy, supercomplexity