An exploration of nursing students’ stress, coping, and quality of life

Caroline A. LeBlanc, Susan B. Prude, Ashley M. Bordelon, Dell G. Mars


Objective: The purpose of this phenomenological study was to identify stressors nursing students experience and examine the impact of stress on quality of life. A secondary aim was to identify coping mechanisms nursing students use to manage stress and to explore the effectiveness of these coping strategies.

Methods: Purposive and snowball sampling were used to recruit eight students from a baccalaureate nursing program in the southeastern United States. One on one interviews were conducted using a semi-structured interview guide. Data were analyzed using Colaizzi’s method of data analysis.

Results: Three themes emerged and were identified as (a) the Culture of Nursing School, (b) Nursing School Impacts Quality of Life, and (c) Emotion-Focused Coping. The sub-themes identified with Nursing School Impacts Quality of Life included Personal Lives Altered and Fear of Failure. Within Emotion-Focused Coping emerged two subthemes, Misery Loves Company and Light at the End of the Tunnel.

Conclusions: The present study sheds light on the stressors nursing students experience Many students feel unprepared and become occupied with the fear of failure, which interferes with concentration and academic performance. Stressful situations in nursing school are unavoidable, therefore students must develop effective coping strategies. Faculty need to incorporate coping education into the curriculum to produce resilient, successful nurses. Fostering adaptive coping strategies may help decrease burnout and improve physical and mental wellbeing in nursing students.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

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

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