PURPOSES/AIMS: Identify changes in nursing students' perceived levels of caring.
RATIONALE/CONCEPTUAL BASIS/BACKGROUND: Enhance caring in their students is an important role of nurse educators. Even so, little research has been performed on changes in students' perceptions of their own caring and their perceptions of peers changes while they are in a nursing program. With this in mind, the purpose of this research is to provide insight into undergraduate nursing students' perceptions of their own and their peers' caring behaviors over their initial semester of nursing education. By having, more information about caring in nursing education educators can enhance undergraduate nursing students' caring.
METHODS: Quantitative methods were employed in this study. Previously developed nursing student caring surveys were administered to 50 voluntary participants at the beginning and end of their first semester in the nursing program in order to quantify the levels of nursing students caring and their perceptions of their peers' caring. Between testing, students received instruction on caring in nursing courses. After the second survey was administered, descriptive and inferential data analyzed were performed using SPSS. Statistical comparisons were made between groups of students in terms of factors that influenced their own caring and their perceptions of peer member caring levels initially and over time.
RESULTS: Students' age was significantly correlated with the students' initial reported level of caring (p<0.01) with older students indicating lower levels of individual and perceived peer caring. Years of education was not correlated with their own level of caring. Noteworthy correlations were found between students' initial own reported levels of caring and perceptions of their peer's caring levels (p<0.03). This was interpreted to mean that students who felt more caring in general also thought that other students were more caring. Data indicated that the years of education were not correlated with perception of their peer's caring. Over the semester, composite scores of perceived peer caring increased, but no significant change was seen in the composite scores of individual students' levels of caring.
IMPLICATIONS: These research findings suggest that many factors influence the caring levels of nursing students. From the results, one can conclude that the age and time nursing students spend in higher education may not positively enhance personal feelings of caring. Against common belief, findings suggest that younger students are more caring than older students. Previous research studies on nursing student caring indicate that more advanced students' are not more caring. Thus, this finding is supported by the literature. This work is limited by the use of students attending a single undergraduate university. Further research is needed that studies students at multiple institutions and levels. In addition, attention should be paid to identify how age and years of education influence perceptions of caring. Finally, studies are needed that illuminate how educators can better enhance caring within nursing education.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/sandra_nadelson/4/