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UBC Theses and Dissertations

How spirituality shapes the practice of community health nurses who work in First Nations communities in British Columbia McColgan, Karen Annette


In recent years nursing literature has featured a proliferation of discourse pertaining to many aspects of spirituality in nursing. However, there has been a dearth of research related to nurses' personal spirituality and whether or not it helps to shape their nursing practice. This qualitative study explored how spirituality shapes the practice of community health nurses who work in First Nations communities in British Columbia (B.C.). The twelve participants, purposefully sampled, all had at least 2 years experience working in community health in First Nations communities. Using an interpretive descriptive research design, participants were interviewed to explore their lived experiences of spirituality relative to their nursing practice. The analysis of the interview data identified that nurses' spirituality is essential to their practice in terms of "providing care spiritually" versus "providing spiritual care" interventions to their patients as typically depicted in the nursing literature. Moreover, their spirituality is discussed as a pervasive nursing ethic and motivation for patient care that manifests as respect, connectedness, love, acceptance, caring, hope, endurance and compassion towards patients. Furthermore, the findings of this study suggest the integration of community health nurses' spirituality into their nursing practice may contribute to the wider aim of health and healing within First Nations communities. Four major themes are presented as research findings: (a) spirituality influences nurses' ability to remain self aware, open-minded and accepting in relation to others; (b) spirituality as a reflexive approach to grounding one's own nursing practice; (c) spiritual awareness fosters appreciation of the need for community healing, and finally (d) self-reflection and providing care spiritually as a route to reciprocal interaction. Also, it was identified that nurses' spirituality nurtures their reflexivity and helps them to: (a) foster culturally safe relationships with patients, (b) realize how colonial issues influence health status in First Nations patients, (c) recognize that cumulative work stress and burn out can be reduced and prevented through relational spiritual practices, and (d) work through their own values, beliefs and prejudices in order to practice nursing based on a model of reciprocal interaction, and culturally safe approaches.

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