The preparation–practice gap: An integrative literature review

Kirsten A. Hickerson, Laura A. Taylor, Mary F. Terhaar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The purpose of this integrative literature review was to evaluate and synthesize the evidence regarding the existence, extent, and significance of a preparation–practice gap—namely, the deficits in knowledge and skills that novice nurses may demonstrate on entry into the clinical setting and the identified best practices to narrow this gap. Method: An integrative literature review was performed. Results: A final set of 50 articles were included in the review. Three main themes permeate the evidence: a preparation–practice gap exists; this gap is costly; and closing the preparation–practice gap will likely rely on changes in undergraduate education and on-the-job remediation (i.e., nurse residency or preceptor programs). Conclusions: The preparation–practice gap is a challenge that has faced the nursing profession for years. Efforts to close this gap can be justified on the hopes of decreasing turnover (and its attendant costs), boosting morale of novice nurses and their preceptors, decreasing stress among the novice nurses, and improving patient safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-23
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of continuing education in nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Education
  • Review and Exam Preparation

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