Compassion in emergency departments. Part 1: nursing students' perspectives

David Hunter*, Jacqueline McCallum, Dora Howes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Compassion is a topical issue in clinical nursing practice, nurse education and policy, but a review of the literature reveals that nursing students’ experiences of compassionate care receives little attention. In this three-part series David Hunter and colleagues explore compassion in emergency departments (EDs) from nursing students’ point of view. Part one provides findings of a professional doctorate study of nursing students’ experiences of compassionate care in EDs, part two explores the barriers to compassionate care in this clinical setting that emerged from the study, and part three considers factors that enable and support compassionate care provision in EDs.

The aim of the study was to explore nursing students’ experiences of the provision of compassionate care in EDs.

The underpinning methodology was an exploratory-descriptive qualitative design. A total of 15 nursing students from across the west of Scotland, who had been placed in eight different EDs, participated in face-to-face interviews which were audio recorded, transcribed and analysed.

Two major themes emerged ‘doing the little things’ and ‘a strange, new world: the uniqueness of the ED’. The students also identified barriers and enablers to providing compassionate care which are discussed in parts two and three.

Despite the challenges of working in the most acute of clinical settings, nurses can provide compassionate care to patients and their relatives. However, this is not universal because certain groups of patients considered ‘challenging’ do not receive equitable compassionate care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-30
Number of pages6
JournalEmergency nurse : the journal of the RCN Accident and Emergency Nursing Association
Issue number2
Early online date20 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2018


  • clinical placements
  • compassion
  • education
  • emergency care
  • patient experience
  • patients
  • students


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