Talking about spiritual matters: First year nursing students’ experiences of an assignment on spiritual conversations
BACKGROUND: Spiritual care is part of holistic nursing. However, nurses have reported that their education does not sufficiently prepare them for spiritual care in practice. Few studies have reported students’ perspectives on how they acquire skills and knowledge in spiritual care. AIM: The aim of the study was to explore how first year nursing students experienced a compulsory assignment that asked them to carry out a conversation with someone about spiritual aspects of nursing care and to reflect about it in relation to nursing. DESIGN: The study was a qualitative content analysis of students’ reflective logs. METHODS: This research analysed the reflective logs of 385 (76%) first year nursing students from one religious and one secular university in Norway. The logs were written in response to an assignment based on Stoll’s assessment guide, which asked them to carry out a conversation about spiritual aspects of nursing care. RESULTS: Analysis yielded three main categories that characterised students’ experience of this assignment: meeting oneself, beyond one’s comfort zone and discovering the other. CONCLUSIONS: Students brought few skills and little experience in spiritual care into their education, and they felt that spiritual care conversations were personal and outside of their comfort zone. It is challenging for nursing education to equip nursing students with the competence in spiritual care necessary to meet the standard set out by the International Council of Nursing.