Promoting Self-Care for Nursing Students
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Taking care of oneself should be a lifelong habit. Nursing students often put aside their own self-care to focus on the rigors of academia. Students describe experiencing both academic and clinical stressors. Stress felt by nursing students could impede the student’s ability to learn and function. It is paramount for instructors to pay attention to students’ psychological status and their academic performance. Teaching nursing students about the importance may promote stress management and encourage positive self-care habits throughout the students’ nursing career.
Implementation: The Self-Care Project (SCP) is a semester long, joint venture between the first two nursing classes (Introduction to Professional Nursing and Nursing Assessment). For the SCP, students complete the American Nurses Association (ANA) Health Risk Appraisal (HRA) (ANA, 2015) to determine an aspect of self-care that needs improvement. The HRA includes identification of health and self-care risk factors and compares the individual’s personal results with national averages and standards. The SCP is divided into sections: Problem, Self-Assessment, Outcome Goals, Interventions, Literature Review, and Evaluation. The students learn to use the Nursing Process on themselves.
Students identify a problem and a SMART goal. They practice the skill of self-assessment. Through a review of literature, the students identify three evidence-based interventions with one being a complimentary or alternative therapy. The interventions are implemented over eight weeks. At the conclusion of the eight weeks, the students evaluate whether the goal was met and suggest changes they would make to improve outcomes of the SCP.
Evaluation: The semester long project is evaluated through the use of a rubric, SCP outline, peer review, and faculty review of the paper. The students complete an outline followed by eight weeks of self-identified interventions. When students have completed the interventions, the projects are peer-reviewed using specific guidelines. The projects are evaluated by faculty using a detailed rubric with points divided between the two classes.
Results: The most common problems identified by students include: stress/anxiety, inadequate/poor sleep, poor nutrition, weight gain, and inactivity. Most students report successful goal attainment. Students in general express appreciation of the project and especially enjoy employing a complimentary therapy. The SCP provides the faculty an opportunity for an “inside look” at students’ stress, anxiety, and coping levels and provides an opportunity to guide students who perceive themselves to be overwhelmed.
Conclusion/Recommendations: In the future, faculty would like to extend the self-care aspect to the third and fourth year students. The authors’ aim is to have students repeat the SCP intervention plan in the final semester of the nursing program. Encouragement of self-care during nursing school may foster continuation of self-care practices into nursing professional practice.
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