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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Undergraduate nursing students’ perceptions of caring Best, Mary Veronica


What does caring mean to nursing students? How and from whom do they learn about caring? In order to better understand the meaning of caring in nursing and in nursing education, as well as how people demonstrate caring, nursing students' perceptions and experiences of caring were investigated in this study. Other researchers have investigated caring in nursing and nursing education, however, references related to students' experiences of caring in nursing education are sparse. Sixteen in-depth interviews were carried out with research participants from a large Western Canadian university school of nursing. Three major areas were explored: students' descriptions of caring, the effect of context on students' perceptions of caring, and faculty members from whom students learned about caring. Students identified five descriptors that represented caring: empathy, helping others by doing things for and with them, compassion, professional caring, and holism. Contextual influences on caring identified by students were also explored. Data describing caring faculty members were summarized with the acronym, C.A.R.I.N.G.: Capabilities; Attitudes towards students; Responses to students; Intuition; Nature of the instructor; and Generosity towards students. Students' descriptions of uncaring faculty members were placed into the acronym as well. In addition, participants described ideal faculty members and role models of caring. Conclusions were developed from this investigation. Implications were identified for nursing educators, nursing education administrators and nursing students. The first conclusion was that empathy is critical to caring. Implications for promoting empathy were addressed through the concept of reciprocity. The second conclusion was that caring requires effective communication. Implications for enhancing communication were explored through the term dialogue between educational administrators, educators and students. A third conclusion was that an emphasis on caring has to be developed and maintained throughout nursing education. Implications for achieving this emphasis were explored through collective commitment to encourage caring by faculty and administrators. Finally, the expectations for faculty members by students, administrators and themselves were examined. Implications were addressed through balancing the tension between these expectations which at present do not create balance between academic, professional and personal demands.

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