International Practice Development Journal


Title of ArticleUsing poems to explore the meaning of compassion to undergraduate nursing students
Type of ArticleOriginal Practice Development and Research
Author/sKirsten Jack and Josie Tetley
ReferenceVolume 6, Issue 1, Article 4
Date of PublicationMay 2016
Keywordsccompassion, creativity, phenomenology, poetry, pre-registration, values

Background: Compassionate care provision is an integral part of nursing practice, but the ways in which pre-registration nurses are enabled to explore the concept are less well understood.

Aim: The aim of this work was to consider how student nurses experience and understand compassion in the context of their education and clinical practice, using reflective poetry as a source of data.

Method: This study drew on reflective poetry writing, underpinned by an interpretive phenomenological approach. Poems authored by study participants were analysed to explore how compassion is understood and experienced by pre-registration nursing students.

Findings: Compassion was described and experienced by the students in many ways. It was discussed as a challenging aspect of practice, on an emotional and on a practical level. Feelings of vulnerability emerged through the data, often linked to the novice status of the students. Reflective poetry writing enabled students to write in a meaningful way about their thoughts and feelings, and offers educators a rich insight into the lifeworld of the student nurse.

Conclusion: Compassion is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that can be difficult for student nurses to engage with in real world practice settings. Creative ways of working, including the use of poetry, can offer student nurses, and those who support them, valuable help in understanding the challenges they encounter and identifying working practices that can make a positive contribution to nursing practice and associated education programmes.

Implications for practice:

  • Educators need to understand the meaning of compassion as it is lived by student nurses, in order to support their development
  • Educators are required to develop their teaching practice to enable the exploration of thoughts and feelings about compassionate care provision
  • Creative ways of teaching and learning can lead to a more unpredictable learning environment and ways to manage this need to be considered
  • Poetry writing offers opportunities for educators to role model the personal behaviours expected of student nurses, as a way to help develop compassionate care provision

This article by Kirsten Jack and Josie Tetley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License.

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