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Do degree-trained students lack compassion?

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28 January, 2014

Crick P et al (2014) Why do student nurses want to be nurses? Nursing Times; 110: 5, 12-15.

Abstract:

Background
Nursing became an all graduate entry profession in September 2013; this move and the publication of the Francis report have brought the debate around nurse education and nurses’ capacity to care into sharper focus. There is much debate over what makes a good nurse and whether graduate nurses lack care and compassion.

Aim and method
This study investigated a cohort of pre-registration student nurses on the first day of their course about their motivations to join the profession, what being a nurse meant to them and which aspects of nursing they valued most.

Results
The demographics of the degree student group were similar to those of diploma students. Reasons cited for entering the profession and views on the nurse’s role showed that students’ motivations and perceptions focused on nursing as a caring rather than a technical profession.

Discussion
The characteristics of the degree students, their strong motivation to care and perception of nursing in altruistic terms contradict the media image of student nurses as being primarily academically, technically and career driven.

 

What do you think?

 

  • Do degree-trained students lack compassion?
  • How does a move to all-degree training affect the profession as a whole?
  • Is there pressure for nurses with a diploma to “top-up” to a degree?

Readers' comments (19)

  • tinkerbell

    Do degree-trained students lack compassion?

    No, no and thrice no.

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  • Nursing has been an all graduate profession in Wales since 2004, a fact that the rest of the country seems to overlook! There is 10 years of experience there to draw upon to inform evidence based conclusions. That said, surely holding a degree and being compassionate are not mutually exclusive.

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  • No, of course degree-trained student nurses do not lack compassion.

    As the study above highlights, reasons for entering the profession have not changed since 2008, and either way, the entry interviews for university courses focus more on who you are as a person than qualifications you may have achieved.

    As a student nurse I find the media image of student nurses frustrating. Everyone on my course is compassionate and cares greatly about the clients under their care on placements. Degree or not, people attracted to the profession are the same as before, which is indicated by this study.

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  • This is interesting. I have worked for 16 years in the health service and been a staff nurse for 9 years. As far as I can see it is the older generation of nurses who feel threatened by the degree nurses coming in. I have met some shocking degree students who are only here for the money, but I have also met some brilliant degree nurses who would put the older generation to shame. If you see poor practice challenge it, don't stand for it. In nursing it is the patients who matter, so older nurses put your skills and experience into practice and train your students to be brilliant nurses and don't let the word degree put you off, a piece of paper does not undo 30 years of experience, so don't be prejudicial to students, encourage them to shine, challenge and guide the poor ones out of nursing because after all the students of today will be looking after you when you get older and need them, so make them the best students in the world.

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  • Do degree trained medical students lack compassion? Do degree trained physiotherapy students lack compassion? Will degree trained paramedic students lack compassion? Do all those nurses and midwives who undertook additional post registration study at degree level suddenly 'lose' comapssion... and just when did nurse training in Manchester start at degree level (the first school in England to offer a degree - no bias, I didn't do it) maybe in the 1980s- did we note the reduction in compassion?

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  • Do degree trained medical students lack compassion? Do degree trained physiotherapy students lack compassion? Will degree trained paramedic students lack compassion? Do all those nurses and midwives who undertook additional post registration study at degree level suddenly 'lose' comapssion... and just when did nurse training in Manchester start at degree level (the first school in England to offer a degree - no bias, I didn't do it) maybe in the 1980s- did we note the reduction in compassion?

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  • Tell what we do lack, compassion and understanding from a lot of the pre-degree nurses who are convinced that experience trumps education. That includes those now in management running services

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  • I'm compassionate solely because im a male nurse
    the designer dressed female student is not compassionate

    neither of the above is true

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  • bill whitehead

    This article is based on carefully constructed and unbiased research conducted at the University of Derby by nurse researchers. It provides a straightforward empirically supported argument to say that nurses want to be nurses for the same reasons that nurses have always wanted to be nurses. The level of academic award appears to be irrelevant to their desire to become a professional nurse. Degree level education for nurses is important for lots of reasons (see my NT article from 2010 for some of them). However, the evidence suggests that nurses want to join the register because they want to nurse not because they desire a degree. Surely these are just the sort of degree level educated RNs that we need?

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  • Liz Charalambous

    No.

    I believe that compassion is an elusive concept, it ebbs and flows between and within individuals depending on circumstances, interactions and previous experiences.

    Having a degree is just one facet of the myriad of characteristics a nurse possesses, what we need to do is ensure nurses themselves are nurtured in their workplace environment and give them the support to be compassionate.

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  • Agreed

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  • Sorry meant tho say agreed see http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jocn.12537/abstract

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  • bill whitehead

    As lead author paula crick says on FB "A good news story about nurses. We felt it was important to share our experience of student nurses.,,let's support them to stay committed as they progress."

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  • does a better education make you less compassionate? I don't think so, im proud to be a nursing student and im also proud im the first in my family to go to university to study for a degree. Nursing is a professional career so why not educate the work force as such??

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  • No because being caring and compassionate is innate within a person, yes people do enter nursing and simply don't care, but the majority of students want to be nurses because they want to help people. It is also unfair to say to say too much time is spent in university, when a lot of time is spent on placement.

    I am in favour of the degree, as nursing is an ever evolving profession, and is far more complex to what it was 30 years ago. I believe nursing is still a vocational career, however it is becoming more technical.

    The only reason nurses look like they aren't hands on, is because there isn't enough on the wards, today one nurse for one side of the ward with two hca's. So the return of State Enrolled Nurses would be nice, instead of these Assistant Practitioners, who draw blood etc who have no form of registration, at least with the SEN's they were qualified and accountable for their actions. And because of ward shortages, students are very much used and abused for personal care, of course muck in get your hands dirty, but you aren't going to learn if you are doing constant bed baths, and maybe this is why students resent doing itl because they are often made to do it far too much.

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  • I disagree totally, as a student nurse myself so much emphasis is placed on us in school and placement on caring for the patient with dignity and respect...in fact most of the teaching skills and education that we need as degree nurses tend to take a back seat in comparison to the emphasis on caring for your patient.

    I think we as students are having a real hard time with it all at the moment and if our hearts were not truly into caring for the patient at the end of the day then we would have left the course. It is tough, with the academic work combined with your placements and if you have a family and a job then all that is added pressure.

    With all the hype in the media, it is very tense in the hospital and everyone is so concerned with doing the right thing that we as students do get overlooked and asked to just 'get stuck in'. I am all for 'mucking in' as that is the only way to learn but when you are trying to chase your mentor around as they are too busy to grab you at every available opportunity then this does demotivate you.

    So going back to the original question... yes we do care for our patients or else we wouldn't be doing what we are doing. It can not be about the money it has to be something in your nature.

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  • surely it is not a degree or no degree which determines the level of compassion an individual has?

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  • There does not appear to be ethical approval for this study?

    Students were given an information sheet and consent form but there is no discussion regarding ethical approval from Derby University.

    There are serious ethical considerations which appear to be neglected here!

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  • bill whitehead

    I can assure the person in the previous post that ethical approval was obtained in the usual fashion for this study. As with all UK universities in the present day there is a rigorous process of ethical review at the University of Derby for all research projects. As with all articles for publication there are word length constraints and the authors have a full report available on request which includes the complete ethical approval process. Bill Whitehead, University of Derby on behalf of Crick, Davies and Perkinton.

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