Applying self-compassion: the experience of student nurses

Waller, Vanessa (2020) Applying self-compassion: the experience of student nurses. Doctoral thesis, Anglia Ruskin University.

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The centrality of compassion is emphasised throughout nursing literature. Despite professional and social expectations that nurses are compassionate, the meaning of compassion remains ambiguous. The literature review undertaken in this study enabled the development of my initial model of interconnections between compassion and selfcompassion, and associated links to nursing and education. Gaps identified in knowledge relate to the experience of learning and applying self-compassion in nursing. This research investigates student nurses’ understanding and development of compassion, the experience of applying self-compassion, and the potential to enhance compassionate practice. Multiple case study methodology was used with seven cases recruited from first year student nurses. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were carried out at the beginning of the research to explore understanding of compassion and its development, and following a series of selfcompassion workshops to explore the experience of applying self-compassion. Leiblich et al’s pluralistic approach to data analysis was used to interrogate the data, prioritising the participant voices, with researcher reflexivity identified using Peshkin’s I’s. Key findings pertinent to nursing and nurse education emerged from this research. The application of self-compassion enhanced psychological wellbeing, supported effective coping, and enhanced intrinsic motivation for learning. Particularly relevant to nursing, selfcompassion enhanced compassion towards others through increased noticing and being less judgemental. The findings extend my model of interconnections to propose learning and teaching strategies for self-compassion development that are practically achievable within current curricula provision e.g. a metaphor for compassion, use of story and reflection, developing noticing skills, role modelling and socialisation, permission, and self-compassion exercises. Areas for future research are identified to further extend knowledge and understanding of these strategies. This new knowledge will be of value in nursing and nurse education, but is also likely to be of interest in all professions/agencies where compassion comprises a fundamental aspect of their professional role.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Accessibility note: If you require a more accessible version of this thesis, please contact us at
Keywords: compassion, self-compassion, nursing, nurse education, multiple case study, metaphor, self-compassion tools
Faculty: Theses from Anglia Ruskin University
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2021 15:39
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2021 17:09

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