Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Nursing




Bonnie Sturm, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Judith Lucas, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Sheila Linz, Ph.D.


Compassionate care, Nursing pedagogy, Role-modeling, Teaching Strategies, Nursing students, Affective learning, Interpretive description


Background: The provision of compassionate care to patients is a core competency expected of nurses, thus nurse educators must help students develop the necessary skills, understanding and motivation to achieve that competency. These educators face the challenge of preparing student nurses for the realities of healthcare delivery, while fostering a meaningful understanding of what constitutes compassionate care in professional practice. They can influence their students both during clinical interaction with patients and through the academic nursing curriculum.

Problem: A considerable amount of research has been published on the value of providing compassionate nursing care; however, there is only minimal research discussing how this particular capacity can be taught and developed in nursing students.

Method: Interpretive description was the research method used to explore how compassionate care is taught in baccalaureate nursing programs. The study participants included nineteen nurse educators from two different baccalaureate-nursing programs: Ten participants from a secular city university and nine participants from a faith-based private university. Individual interviews were conducted with fifteen nurse educators and one focus group of four nurse educators was convened. The sessions were audio taped, transcribed and analyzed using traditional qualitative techniques.

Results: A definition of compassionate care within the context of nursing was synthesized based on the participants’ responses. In addition, the strategies nurse educators utilize when teaching compassionate care in baccalaureate nursing programs were described. The study provides descriptions of experiences and of the facilitators and barriers to teaching compassionate care. These personal and first-hand experiences add valuable practical knowledge which can be applied in helping students to develop the competencies needed to provide compassionate care to patients.

Conclusions: It is important for nursing curricula to include the teaching of compassionate care. The approaches revealed in this study may contribute to evidence-based nursing pedagogies that maintain the past and shape the future of a compassionate profession. The findings will guide nurse educators to build curricular designs that develop nursing students’ capacity to deliver compassionate care.