Today’s Nursing Student as Tomorrow’s Nurse: The Role of Academia in Shaping Healthy Work Environments

Friday, 17 March 2017: 3:05 PM

Kristi L. Frisbee, DNP
Department of Nursing, Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KS, USA
Susan Luparell, PhD
College of Nursing, Montana State University, Great Falls, MT, USA

In a seminal study of nursing faculty nationwide, Lashley and deMeneses (2001) identified that uncivil behavior by nursing students was an unfortunately common occurrence, with almost all faculty respondents reporting students who were inattentive, unprepared, late, or inappropriately talkative in class. Of concern was the large percentage of respondents who reported experience with students who yelled or verbally abused peers in the classroom (65.8%) or clinical setting (46.3%), as well as the nearly one in four who reported uninvited, objectionable physical contact by a student. Subsequent research ensued and further demonstrated the prevalence of student incivility1 and its impact2,3.

As discussions on the topic continue to become more widespread, a common concern voiced by nursing faculty is that poorly behaving students may go on to be poorly behaving licensed nurses. Although the medical profession has established a link between post-licensure disciplinary action and unprofessional behavior during medical school, internship, or residency4-6, no empirical nursing literature could be identified that addressed this potential link.

In an effort to fill this gap, we conducted a cross-sectional, descriptive study of a national sample of nurse faculty (n = 1869) to explore their attitudes and beliefs about student incivility in nursing programs, including how it should be managed and the major challenges faced when attempting managing it. Additionally, we explored educators’ personal knowledge regarding poorly behaving students and subsequent behavior as licensed nurses. Data have been compiled and results will reported.

Over one in three (37%) faculty reported personal knowledge of a former poorly behaving student who subsequently went on to demonstrate poor behavior in the workplace. Additionally, 55% reported that at least two students graduated from their nursing program in the previous academic year whom they thought should not have graduated based on unprofessional or uncivil behavior. Lastly, faculty reported multiple challenges to effectively addressing poor behavior in students.

The findings from this study, which will be presented in more detail, are both alarming and highly relevant to the health care environment, as they suggest a possible link between pre- and post-licensure behavior in nursing. Suggestions for ongoing conversation and additional research will be provided.