The lived experience of nursing students in caring for suffering individuals: A phenomenological analysis
Susan S. Gunby, PhD, RN
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The purpose of this study was to illuminate the lived experience of nursing students in caring for individuals who were suffering. A phenomenological approach was utilized consisting of four iterative steps: purposive sampling, intensive interviewing, inductive data analysis using Giorgi's (1985) method, and uncovering the essential structure of the phenomenon. Using purposive sampling, 12 generic undergraduate nursing students were recruited from a large university located in the southeastern United States. Participants were interviewed and asked to describe their experiences related to caring for a suffering individual. Interviews were audiotaped and then transcribed. The transcriptions of the interviews constituted the data for analysis. Data were analyzed utilizing the four-step process delineated by Giorgi (1985). Methodological rigor of the study was established through adherence to the four trustworthiness criteria established by Guba and Lincoln (1989). These include credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability. Five themes emerged from the data: remembering/knowing, listening/voicing, attending, standing inside/standing outside, and being with. Remembering/knowing was constituted by the subthemes of remembering the experience, making a difference, and knowing the experience. Subthemes for listening/voicing were caring, becoming educated, emulating role models, describing the lack of role models, and discovering self. Seven subthemes emerged for attending: maintaining human dignity, showing compassion, respecting, caring/nurturing, managing pain, individualizing, and connecting/putting oneself in the suffering person's shoes. Standing inside/standing outside described a paradoxical coalescing of being with and caring for an individual who is suffering while also needing or wanting to distance oneself to protect one's vulnerability. Being with the family recognized the preeminent position of the family; the subthemes were listening/communicating, caring/showing compassion, and connecting/putting oneself in the family's shoes. Further abstraction from the data yielded the major conclusion of this study: Insight into nursing students' experiences in caring for suffering individuals is gained through their narratives of the lived experience. This research is significant to nursing education because it illuminates the ways nursing students learn to care for suffering individuals.
This dissertation has also been disseminated through the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. Dissertation/thesis number: 9404920; ProQuest document ID: 304041484. The author still retains copyright.
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