A recent article reports the findings of a study that aimed to determine the level of caring instilled in baccalaureate nursing students during their time of training. The researchers tested a small group of students, 16 in total, and accounted for the factors that increased and hampered the learning of caring during education. The Caring Ability Inventory (CIA) constitutes their standardized level of measure for the students, marking the quantitative portion of the study. Yet they also studied the participants in a qualitative method. The authors (Ma, et al, 2013) remark, “Participants’ tones, facial expressions, body language, and interactions in the groups were recorded in order to provide more contextual information for subsequent analysis” (p. 1040). In all, the students tested lower in the caring ability than those in other medical positions.
The findings regarding the instruments that hampered and promoted caring ability were most interesting and helpful. The article (Ma, et al, 2013) reports that learning from role models was one of the most powerful means of promoting caring among nurses (p. 1041). The corollary, of course, was experiencing negative role models among teachers. However, both of these conclusions reveal the power that personal example plays in the medical profession. Students may tend to the think that caring is in born or similar to other subjects that we control, manipulate, and memorize. But the ability to care entails a large human aspect. And we learn this largely by watching and emulating others.
The study restricted its scope to China. Yet it seems that the authors did not account for how this might affect their sample and results. Thus, my main criticism of the article was this failure to consider the cultural or social factors that might influence the students. Otherwise, the study provides an intriguing and practically helpful piece of work. I hope to find teachers and nurses worthy of emulation who will teach me to care well.