Professional Formation: Facilitating Integration of Personal and Professional Values in Nursing Education

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Margaret (Betsy) Babb Kennedy, PhD, RN, CNE
School of Nursing, Vanderbilt, nashville, TN, USA
Abigail Parish, DNP
School of Nursing, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA


Intentional activities related to professional formation and integration of personally held and collective professional values are often lost in an already laden nursing education curricula. Cognitive and psychomotor skills are central to nursing education, but the affective domain of learning is often neglected. Students are faced with moral dilemmas, the hidden curriculum, and other challenges in the learning environment that can erode purpose and committment to the detriment of self and practice. Exploration of these issues can only be done in in ways that feel safe for students and faculty, in a community of inquiry that is relationship-centered. Intentional focus on acknowledgment of personal healing qualities, experiences of personal courage, and strengthening of the intentions that drew them into nursing is critical. The purpose of this study is to describe themes and perceived benefits for students and faculty facilitators after implementation of an innovative, experiential approach to supporting professional growth and development in the affective domain.


The Power of Nursing elective course will be offerred for the third time in Spring 2017 by two course directors and faculty facilitators. To date, two cohorts of students have participated in the course. In the course, students engage with each other and faculty facilitators in a non-judgmental, non-competetive space to offer an experience that differs from typical nursing curricula. Topics include authenticity and wholeness, grief and loss, personal healing qualities, courage to enact power, and remembering the calling and committment to values. Concepts central to the experience such as listening and presence are introduced as habits of interaction within the group.


Qualitative thematic analysis will be performed on narrative evaluation results of student and faculty facilitator participants across three cohorts [Spring 2015 (n=24), Spring 2016 (n=44), Spring 2017 (n=x)]. Student data includes personal values repressed as a part of nursing education, perceived personal healing qualities, personal mission statements, and valuable personal and professional insights gained from engaging in the elective course. Faculty data includes comparisons of teaching this elective course as opposed to others in the curriculum, how the course might have changed impressions of students, thoughts on teaching in general, or changes in the way they relate to students. Themes for each will be presented and potential benefits of participation examined. Quantitative responses to evaluation questionnaires will also be analyzed.


Nursing education curricula require attention, intention, and adaptation to support students as they develop professional identity. Learning experiences in the affective domain can assist students to recognize and reinforce the foundation of personal strengths, values, and professional principles that is needed to navigate the hidden curriculum and future career in a profession with inevitable moral conflicts.