Faculty Caring: Nursing Students' Perspective Using Q-Methodology

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Laura K. Boalch, SN
Linda A. Mason Barber, PhD
Connie M. Barbour, EdD
Tanner Health System School of Nursing, University of West Georgia, Carrollton, GA, USA


Caring is considered by many as the essence of nursing. Teaching and learning caring and caring behaviors is, therefore, essential to the education of new nurses. Students learn what it means to be a nurse by watching and listening to faculty as they care for students, faculty, and patients. Evidence to support what students perceive as caring behaviors exhibited by faculty is sparse and outdated. An understanding of what contemporary students perceive constitutes caring behaviors of nurses and, more specifically, caring behaviors of faculty is needed in order to ensure these behaviors are consistently modeled by faculty in the teaching/learning environment. This has implications for the role of faculty in shaping new nurses’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes related to caring and caring behaviors within the nursing profession.


The purpose of this study is to explore contemporary nursing students’ perceptions of which behaviors exhibited by faculty are considered to be consistent with caring.


The preliminary phase of a multiple methods study using Q-methodology consisting of five steps was conducted. A convenience sample of first and second year BSN students who had completed at least one semester of the nursing program was recruited from one school of nursing at a university in the Southeastern U.S. The first phase of this two phase study consisted of creation of Q statements drawn from the literature as well as from face-to-face interviews conducted with the students.


Inductive analysis of initial data collected during phase one of the study was completed with the emergence of several themes related to what students perceived as constituting caring behaviors exhibited by faculty being used to create a Q-sort. The second phase of the study will involve 25 BSN students from the same institution in which phase 1 of the study was completed and who meet the same inclusion criteria as students in this initial phase. Students will complete the Q sort by rank-ordering the statements related to faculty caring behaviors identified in the first phase of the study. Descriptive statistics will be used to analyze these data.


Student perceptions of what constitutes faculty caring behaviors can influence student learning related to caring, translating to behaviors exhibited by new nurses as they provide care to their patients. Caring has been associated with positive patient outcomes and patient satisfaction which has implications for healthcare institutions and reimbursement for healthcare costs incurred by these institutions. Results of this study may provide insight into what students perceive as constituting caring behaviors exhibited by faculty and may inform faculty in terms of their role in modeling caring behaviors as they participate in the development of new nurses.