The presence of humanistic caring before enrolling in nursing undergraduate programs: Perceptions of nursing students and nurses

Dimitri Létourneau, Johanne Goudreau, Chantal Cara


Background and objective: Learning to become a humanistic and caring practitioner is expected by nursing regulatory bodies. Previous investigations revealed that several pedagogical activities used in nursing education programs could facilitate this learning process. There are also studies that underscored the contributions of non-academical experiences to humanistic caring practices. This paper describes nursing students’ and nurses’ lived experiences prior to nursing that contribute to the development of humanistic caring.

Methods: The study drew on interpretive phenomenology and 26 participants were individually interviewed. Benner’s (1994) method was adapted and concretized into five iterative phases of phenomenological analysis that cooccurred with data collection.

Results: Six themes emerged from the interpretation process, describing how humanistic caring is developed before enrolling in nursing. First, there are natural humanistic and caring dispositions. Second, there are experiences 1) involving family members, 2) related to the public sector, 3) associated with a friend, 4) featuring an encounter with a nurse, and 5) related to spirituality. Overall, relationships that participants had previously developed appeared to be at the core of the development of their humanistic caring.

Conclusions: The findings strongly suggest that nursing students hold a variable degree of natural dispositions. These inclinations are enhanced through experiences inextricable to human life that will most likely generate learning. Nursing students thus start their education with a definite potential to humanize care. To facilitate the development of humanistic caring, educators may encourage students to reflect on and become aware of their past experiences and learning.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

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

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