VOL: 98, ISSUE: 34, PAGE NO: 32
Chris Bassett, BA, RN, is nurse lecturer, school of nursing, University of Sheffield
As with any study, the methodology was the key to success (Parahoo, 1997). Using a phenomenological approach, the study focused on the lived and expressed experiences of the participants - 15 nurses and six nursing students, two from each year of a three-year advanced diploma in nursing programme.
- Encouraging autonomy;
- Giving of oneself;
- Taking risks;
- Supporting care;
- Emotional labour.
The notion of patient empowerment appeared to be important to the nurses who participated in this study. It was the only theme that could not be broken down into subcategories, which may indicate how strongly they feel about it.
Caring, it can be argued, is the essence of giving of oneself. Nurses give to patients in terms of time, energy and effort. They spend time learning skills and gaining knowledge, both as students and throughout their nursing careers. To simply provide mechanical care may not be enough in their eyes - providing care without genuineness was not seen as adequately caring for patients.
This theme comprises the subcategories 'taking risks', 'getting a buzz' and 'challenge'. Taking risks in nursing is not about putting patients at risk by acting in a cavalier fashion or randomly experimenting with medications or care. The term was associated with testing the boundaries of accepted care, moving from the defined boundaries of the profession, and developing new and innovative ways of caring for patients.
Participants identified the fact that they believe that certain supporting factors are essential to ensure that care can be delivered effectively. These are managerial, organisational and psychological support systems.
This theme was unique to the students in this study and seemed to reflect the fact that learning to nurse can constitute an emotional assault.
This study has allowed the nurses and nursing students who participated to discuss personal examples of their roles. In doing so it has provided important insights into some of the ways in which they provide care for their patients.
Nurses need to be cautious about implementing strategies of care that they feel will enhance the patient experience. First, they need to be sure that their patients want these strategies to be implemented. This raises the issue of the need for more research on the relationship between nurses' and patients' perception of what constitutes 'good' care. This study considers the views of a small group of nurses and nursing students only, and although its findings are interesting and valuable it does little to indicate what patients may need or want.
This research is qualitative and cannot provide us with absolute truths about care, caring, and the ways that nurses understand and provide that care. It is therefore only possible to provide greater understanding and insight into what it is to care as a nurse or nursing student, which I feel this study has achieved.
This study has also shown how some nurses and nursing students understand care, and clearly has implications for nurse educators. The main issues are related to the identification of care as being at the centre of the curriculum.
This study has provided some interesting insights into nurses' conceptualisations of their own nursing care. If this group is representative of other British nurses and nursing students then I have real faith that nursing care is alive and well in British health care, and has a bright future.