Preparing undergraduate student nurses/midwives for spiritual care

Linda Ross, Wilfred Mcsherry, Tove Giske, Rene van Leuuwen, Annemiek Schepp-Akkerman

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Abstract

Aims

1. To report the findings from a prospective, longitudinal, correlational European study which:- describes undergraduate student nurses/midwives perceptions of spirituality/spiritual care, their perceived competence in giving spiritual care and how these perceptions change over time-explores factors contributing to development of spiritual care competency.

2. To report how these study findings are being used to shape the future of spiritual care pre-registration nursing/midwifery education across Europe.

Background. 

Spiritual care is a key feature in healthcare policy and guidance internationally. Spiritual care is expected of nurses/midwives yet nurses consistently report feeling unprepared and want further education. Spiritual care is important to patients but is often overlooked. We therefore sought to address the disconnect between regulatory body expectation and the experienced reality of practicing nurses and patients by conducting two studies.

Study 1 was a prospective, longitudinal, multinational, correlational survey. A convenience sample of 2193 undergraduate nursing/midwifery students (69% response rate) enrolled at 21 universities in 8 countries completed questionnaires capturing demographic data (purpose designed questionnaire) and measuring perception of spirituality/spiritual care (SSCRS), spiritual care competency (SCCS), spiritual wellbeing (JAREL) and spiritual attitude and involvement (SAIL) on 4 occasions (start of course n=2193, year 2 n=1182, year 3 n=736, end of course n=595) between 2011-2015. Data were subjected to descriptive, bivariate and multivariate analyses.

Results. 

Perceived competency increased significantly over the course of students’ study (+0.4, p<0.01 on SCCS), which students attributed to caring for patients, events in their own lives and teaching/discussion in university. Two factors were significantly correlated with perceived spiritual care competency: perception of spirituality/spiritual care, where a broad view was preferable (SSCRS correlations range 0.32-0.55, p<0.01) and personal spirituality, where high spiritual wellbeing (JAREL) and spiritual attitude and involvement (SAIL) scores were preferable (SAIL correlations range 0.29-0.41, p<0.01; JAREL correlations range 0.15-0.37, p<0.01). Students’ perceptions of spirituality/spiritual care broadened slightly but statistically significantly over the duration of their studies (+ 0.2, p < 0.01 on SSCRS).

Conclusions. 

We have provided the first evidence that perceived spiritual care competence is developed in undergraduate student nurses/midwives and that students’ perceptions of spirituality and personal spirituality contribute to that development. Implications for teaching and learning will be discussed.  
Study 2 is an Erasmus funded project (2016-2019) using co-production and action learning. It will enable nurse educators/key stakeholders from across Europe to consider the research findings from Study 1 and, together with other available evidence/international best practice, to develop/test an innovative, flexible Spiritual Care Matrix for nurse/midwifery education which can be adopted by Higher Education Institutions across Europe. 

Learning outcomes 

1. Identify that the 2 key factors contributing to development of perceived spiritual care competency are the personal spirituality of the student and how they perceive spirituality and spiritual care

2. Explore the implications of these findings for teaching and learning in terms of opportunities and challenges e.g. innovative approaches to learning and teaching 

3. To learn about the Erasmus Project and consider becoming involved. 

Recommended reading

1. Ross L, Giske T, van Leeuwen R, Baldacchino D, McSherry W, Narayanasamy A, Jarvis P, Schep-Akkerman A. (2016) Factors contributing to student nurses’/midwives’ perceived competency in spiritual care. Nurse Education Today, 36, 445-451.

2. McSherry W and Ross L (2015) Spiritual shortfall? Nursing Standard, 29, 35, 22-23. April 29 

3. McSherry W and Ross L (2015) Heed the evidence on place of spiritual needs in health care. Nursing Standard, 29, 38, May 20

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2018
EventRCN Education Conference and Exhibition 2018. - Newcastle Civic Centre, Newcastle, United Kingdom
Duration: 20 Mar 201821 Mar 2018

Conference

ConferenceRCN Education Conference and Exhibition 2018.
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityNewcastle
Period20/03/1821/03/18

Keywords

  • spiritual care
  • spiritual competency
  • Spirituality

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