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Prior care experience does not increase nursing students’ compassion, study finds

Prior care experience does not increase nursing students’ compassion, study finds

Having paid prior care experience does not increase a student nurses’ levels of compassion or prevent them from experiencing a ‘reality shock’ during their studies, new research has suggested.

The study, published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies, analysed questionnaires completed by pre-registration nursing students and people who had previously taken part in a Health Education England paid prior care experience pilot.

The questionnaires measured emotional intelligence, compassion satisfaction and fatigue, resilience, psychological empowerment and career commitment.

The findings of the study – which was carried out by researchers from the School of Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham – suggest that prior care experience has both positive and negative effects on students’ compassionate values and behaviours, but that positive effects do not extend to qualification.

The researchers found no statistically significant differences in any of the quantitative outcome measures between participants with and without paid prior care experience.

However, the study did identify a statistically significant increase in compassion fatigue in both groups of participants post-qualification.

Furthermore, paid prior care experience did not prevent participants from experiencing ‘reality shock’ on becoming a student or on qualification, the authors noted.

Professor Joanne Lymn, who led the research, said: ‘The data do not support mandating a period of paid care experience prior to commencing nursing training.

‘This is good news in the current climate where we need to encourage more students into the nursing profession.’

The research – funded by the Department of Health and Social Care – used a mixed methods design, with 220 people completing questionnaires, 10 people taking part in phone interviews and eight participating in focus groups.

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