Student nurses’ experiences of incivility and the impact on learning and emotional wellbeing

Julie C. Vuolo


Background: Incivility is the display of intimidating, rude, disruptive or undesirable behaviours. Incivility in nursing has the potential to impact on the learning environment, student wellbeing and patient outcomes. Although it is a globally recognised phenomenon, relatively little is known about it in the context of nurse education in the United Kingdom, where the students’ time is divided equally between theory and practice and a nurse mentor is allocated to each student when on clinical placement.

Methods: A phenomenological qualitative design was used to explore the experiences of ten student nurses studying on a three year degree level pre-registration (pre-licensure) nursing programme. Data was collected by in-depth, semi-structured, face-to-face interviews which were tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was conducted using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis as a framework.

Results: Student nurses can experience incivility in both classroom and clinical settings with negative consequences in terms of learning and personal wellbeing. Four superordinate (main) themes (Knowing-Not Knowing/Positioning/The Invisible Student/Distraction) were identified along with a further fifteen subordinate themes which included misuse, being nameless and feeling a burden.

Conclusions: These findings add further to our understanding of incivility in nursing education and specifically the potential for incivility to impact on learning and students’ emotional wellbeing. Incivilities related to ‘the Invisible Student’ and ‘Knowing-Not Knowing’ are particularly worthy of further exploration as they reveal a hitherto unappreciated dimension of this complex, globally recognised phenomena. 

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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