Title: Perceptions and experiences of trauma within undergraduate nursing education
Category: Changing Nature of Work and Work Environment
Subcategory: Changing Nature of Work and Work Environment
There are several stress-related Canadian studies on nurses but the existing research does not focus on prevention of stress or addresses the issue of nurses leaving the profession because of stress. The Canadian study by Pijl Zieber (2014), determined that nursing students’ experiences of making mistakes in clinical settings resulted in “feelings of fear, anxiety or regret, [and] self-disintegration”. This study also showed that as students’ confidence diminished, they increasingly became overwhelmed with being able to perform skills and tasks competently resulting in a “downward spiral that was difficult to arrest”. Another study by the principal applicant and two other researchers published in 2015, explored why new nurses within western Canada left the nursing profession within five years of entry into the workforce. They found that experiences of both trauma and vicarious trauma as nursing students and subsequently as new nurses had significant impact on their decision to permanently exit the nursing workforce.
Work also done by the Manitoba Nurses Union (MNU) and published in 2015, established that the nature of nursing work exposes nurses in Manitoba to the development of post-traumatic stress. Other work done in Canada showed that approximately 43 percent of new nursing graduates report a high level of psychological distress, of which 13 percent intended on leaving the nursing profession.
The objectives of the study are to:
• Identify experiences of trauma within the nursing student population at Brandon University in order to better understand how, when, and under what circumstances nursing students and graduates self-identify as being ‘traumatized’, and/or act on their experiences and feelings of work-related ‘trauma’;
• Increase clinical instructor confidence to conduct debriefings in the clinical practice environment to mitigate the accumulating effects of trauma that may lead to new graduate exit from the profession; and
• Develop strategies to foster resiliency and healthy coping mechanisms in undergraduate nursing students and, by extension, new nursing graduates.
The study will also attempt to identify the degree to which there is congruence or discordance between ‘trauma’ concepts and diagnostic criteria as they are identified by the study’s participants and clinical medicine. The exploration of these concepts may reveal significant linkages to the development of PTSD symptomologies within newly-graduated nurses and students as well as in the arena of healthcare practicum. /This study would result in learning more around exposures to trauma early in a nurse’s career. The findings could also be significant in shaping identification and prevention of illness. The study could provide evidence that debriefing is an effective intervention tool that could prove helpful in providing a greater understanding of trauma and experiences in the nursing profession. The study has potential to benefit the health and quality of life of new nurses and to prevent work disability caused by trauma.
Kathryn Chachula and Emma Varley, Brandon University