The meaning of caring for nursing students in a baccalaureate nursing program: An arts-based inquiry

Karen Parsons, Caroline Porr, April Pike, Paula Kelly


Objective: To determine the meaning of caring for nursing students in order to inform development of a caring curriculum for a four-year Bachelor of Nursing Program.

Methods: A hermeneutic phenomenological method was employed to explore the meaning students ascribed to caring in nursing. Students drew from their own experiences within the context of nursing education. Arts-based inquiry was used as the medium to elicit students’ reflections of the meaning of caring. Seven nursing students participated in the study. Each student was asked to paint a picture capturing the meaning of caring in nursing, followed by one semi-structured audio-recorded interview. Data analysis followed the seven-step method of contextual analysis described by Diekelmann, Allan and Tanner (1989), and incorportated the methods of van Manen (1990).

Results: Four themes emerged from the interview data: a) caring comes from within, b) caring is being the best you can be, c) caring is providing holistic care, and d) caring cannot be taught.

Conclusions: Arts-based inquiry and the phenomenological method enabled in-depth exploration of the meaning of caring in nursing for seven nursing students. Arts-based inquiry can serve as an effective educational strategy for facilitating and fostering nurse caring among nursing students. The findings from this study have important implications for designing and implementing a caring curriculum in a baccalaureate nursing program including ensuring a caring learning environment is established for nursing students. A caring curriculum will advance student caring, and, ultimately, promote higher quality nursing care delivery.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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