Stressors and Coping Strategies of Students in Accelerated Baccalaureate Nursing Programs Marge Hegge, Edd, Rn Sr. Vicky Larson, Ms, Rn

Topics: Coping skill, Nursing, Nurse Pages: 18 (3500 words) Published: November 29, 2011
Students in accelerated baccalaureate
nursing programs were
asked about the stressors and
helpfulness of coping strategies during
the program. The authors report the
results and implications of their study.
The success of baccalaureate students
in accelerated nursing programs depends
on how well the students handle
stress. Most of the research about
stress and coping of nursing students
has been conducted with traditional
baccalaureate students. Those with
previous healthcare experience may
exhibit less stress than students who
have not had previous experience.1 A
longitudinal study found that previous
healthcare experience correlated with
less student stress only at the beginning
of the semester.2 Younger students
do not perceive more stress than
older, more mature students.2 Neither
age nor work experience was a factor
influencing perceived stress in student
Traditional baccalaureate students
expected clinical experiences to be
more stressful than they actually found
them to be. Students experienced
higher stress levels at the beginning of
the semester than at the end of the
semester.2 Both associate degree and
baccalaureate nursing students perceive
the clinical instructor as the primary
source of stress during clinical
experiences.4 Interactions with clinical
instructors were highly stressful events
for 45% of the 107 junior student
nurses.5 The most common stressful
events for them included interpersonal
relationships with instructors, ability to
perform, heavy workload, and helpless
feelings.5 Five main themes of stress
perceived by 75 students in a pediatric
clinical rotation were as follows: fear
of medication errors, extensive information
to learn, lack of clinical knowledge,
inexperience with caring for
children, and clinical instructors.3 Some
students experience chaos in their lives
during nursing school.6 Interviews of
23 traditional baccalaureate nursing
students revealed major stressors as
academic, environmental, financial, interpersonal,
and personal factors.7
Literature describing stressors or
coping strategies of accelerated nursing
students was absent. This lack of
studies underscores the need for further
research as the number of accelerated
programs and students increases. These
students have higher stress levels than
traditional students. The accelerated program
condenses the learning time increasing
stress and potentially impeding
learning, critical thinking, and student’s
performances.8 More studies are needed
to explore accelerated students’ coping
strategies to deal with demanding academic,
personal, and financial stressors
while enrolled in these programs.
Theoretical Framework
The framework for this study was based
on the findings of Carver et al.9 They
developed a multidimensional coping
scale assessment tool, called the COPE
scale inventory, which measures the
relative helpfulness of various coping
strategies. The starting point for much of
their research was the conceptual analysis
of stress and coping by Lazarus and
Folkman.10 Lazarus and Folkman base
stress management on 3 processes:
primary appraisal, secondary appraisal,
and coping. Primary appraisal is the
method of recognizing a threat to oneself.
Secondary appraisal is the method
of internalizing the response to the
threat. Coping is the process of carrying
out that response. The outcomes of one
of these processes reinvoke a preceding
process.9 The processes of stress and
coping do not occur in an unbroken
stream. There are a variety of ways to
deal with life’s adversity. Individuals
bring different coping strategies to
stressful situations they encounter. Some
students have more resolve than others
in coping with stress to achieve their
academic goals. The items in the COPE
scale are phrased to elicit usual behavior
when encountering stress. Learning outcomes
may vary depending on how the
student copes with the stress. A...
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