How do student nurses learn to care? An analysis of pre-registration adult nursing practice assessment documents
There is international concern about the quality of nursing in resource constrained, high technology health care settings. This paper reports findings from a research study which explored the experiences and views of those involved in the education and learning of 'caring' with adult pre-registration students. A novel dataset of 39 practice assessment documents (PADs) were randomly sampled and analysed across both bachelors and masters programmes from September 2014–July 2015. Using an appreciative enquiry approach, the Caring Behaviours Inventory aided analysis of qualitative text from both mentors and students within the PADs to identify how student nurses learn to care and to establish whether there were any differences between Masters and Bachelors students. In contrast with existing research, we found a holistic, melded approach to caring. This combined softer skills with highly technologized care, and flexible, tailored approaches to optimise individualised care delivery. Both of these were highly valued by both students and mentors. Pre-registration MSc students tended to have higher perceptual skills and be more analytical than their BSc counterparts. We found no evidence to suggest that caring behaviour or attitudes diminish over the course of either programme.