‘Riding the waves’ - an exploration of how students undertaking a pre-registration nursing programme develop emotional resilience

Brigham, Lindsay L. and Smith, Ann G. (2008). ‘Riding the waves’ - an exploration of how students undertaking a pre-registration nursing programme develop emotional resilience. Open University, Milton Keynes.

URL: http://www8.open.ac.uk/opencetl/resources/pbpl-res...



The study was prompted by recognition of the many emotional demands and challenges on mature students undertaking professional qualifying programmes. These can cause excessive levels of stress and anxiety with an impact on retention of students on programmes.

Aim and objectives
The overall aim was to identify what pre-registration nurses identified as challenges or adversity in their transition from health care support workers to accountable professionals and what factors they perceived as significant in contributing to their own emotional resilience. The objective was then to make specific recommendations related to the nursing curriculum, academic and work based support structures in order to promote resilience.

Participants were pre-registration nursing students on adult and mental health branches nearing the end of their final year of a pre-registration nursing programme with the Open University.

A qualitative methodology was used with use of one focus group and eleven in depth interviews.

Four different dimensions of resilience were identified; ways of being/personal characteristics, personal survival tactics, immediate social and work based environment and wider social and cultural environment. Key findings included the importance of peer support, positive feedback and enhancing the student’s ability to re-frame difficulties or problems, a positive culture of work place learning , supporting and validating personal reflection outside academic discourses, and support in ‘meaning making’. As well as peer support, examples of good practice demonstrated by mentors, programme tutors and tutors were essential in supporting students in these identified areas.

Conclusion and recommendations
Emotional resilience is a multi-dimensional concept and different levels of intervention are therefore needed to promote it. The curriculum needs to reflect the importance of affective as well as cognitive aspects of development in order to promote the resilience of students and support structures need to be embedded in programme design to promote peer interaction and sharing of good practice between those in education roles.

Key words
Pre-registration nursing education, emotional resilience, adversity, communities of practice

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