Care concept in medical and nursing students’ descriptions – Philosophical approach and implications for medical education

Ian McGonagle 3,  
Department of Development in Nursing, Medical University of Lublin, Poland
Department of Paediatric Nursing, Medical University of Lublin, Poland
Mental Health Research Education and Development (MHRED), University of Lincoln, UK
Department of Ethics and Human Philosophy, Medical University of Lublin, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med 2014;21(4):854–860
[b]introduction.[/b] Care is seen as something that is peculiar to the medical sciences but its meaning and status for physicians and nurses differs. objectives. The aim of this research was to learn how nursing and medical students understand and define care, and how their definition and views on their practice of caring change as they advance through their studies. [b]material and methods[/b]. The study was conducted among two groups of students: before and after their first practicum (n=102). Analysis of the students’ answers was carried out using Colaizzi’s phenomenological descriptive methodology, which means that a qualitative approach was used. [b]results[/b]. The qualitative analysis shows that the medical and nursing students define care in the same way, using 9 main categories: compassion, commitment, competence, confidence, conscience, communication, patience, courage and support. The nursing students viewed their caring to be within both practical and emotional dimensions and this was a core feature of their identity as nurses. Medical students, on the other hand, viewed the practical dimension of care as an additional activity. All the students in the study underlined the importance of having time to care and showed that, for them, ‘time’ in this context has a moral meaning. What was interesting to the research team centered on the initial attitudes to ‘caring’ from both medical and nursing students. [b]conclusions[/b]. We found that students of both nursing and medicine do not begin their studies with different attitudes and concepts of care. However, after their initial exposure to practical placements a process begins which forges different identities around the concept of care. This implies trends in the division of professional roles during their initial education.