The Relationship of Empathy in Baccalaureate Nursing Students and Their Clinical Mentors

Wednesday, July 13, 2011: 11:10 AM

Pamela L. Mahan, DSN, MA, BS, RN
Sylvia K. Fields, EdD, MEd, MA, R, N
Department of Nursing, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah, GA

Learning Objective 1: Examine the personal and educational characteristics that influence empathy in baccalaureate nursing students.

Learning Objective 2: State one rationale for instructors and clinical mentors for modeling empathy in the clincial and education setting.

Purpose: 1)  To examine the personal and educational characteristics that influence baccalaureate nursing student scores on the Jefferson Scale of Empathy Health Provider-Student Version (JSEHP-SV); 2) To determine if there is a correlation between empathy scores of baccalaureate nursing students and their clinical mentors

 Methods:  Descriptive, two-year longitudinal and correlational design. Instrument: The two versions of the psychometrically validated Jefferson Scale of Empathy-Health Provider-Student Version (JSE-HP-SV) for the nursing students, and the Jefferson Scale of Empathy-Health Provider (JSE-HP) for the clinical mentors. A convenience sample of 265 male and female third and fourth year baccalaureate nursing students, and 136 clinical nursing mentors. Correlational analyses, t-tests, and ANOVA were used for statistical analysis with the SAS 9.1 version for Windows.

 Results: There was a statistically significant difference in total mean scores (t (419) = 4.69; p < 0.01) between 265 (111.4) and 136 clinical nurses (117.2). Comparison of the two groups on their responses to the individual items of the JSE (using t-test for independent groups) showed statistically significant differences on 10 of the 20 item survey (50%). Mean JSE-HP-SV scores were higher for female students (112.5) than for male students (104.1). Mean JSE-HP-SV scores were higher (118.4) for female students over 40 (including RN-BSN and first semester generic baccalaureate students) than for students 20 - 29 years (109.7).

  Conclusion: The lack of clinical and life experiences that may be responsible for the increase in the clinical mentor's scores are conversely responsible for the decrease in the students empathy scores. The results on the gender mean scores support previous studies that females are generally more empathetic than male students. The results on for the mean age empathy scores may indicate that the life experiences can positively impact the level of empathy.