The Effects of Stress on Nursing Students
As the healthcare system continues to develop, the field of nursing and the need for new nurses continues to rise. Nursing is a career that is rewarding and exciting but is also challenging and demanding. The challenge begins as students enter undergraduate nursing programs. As student nurses begin to take on the amount of academic and clinical work given, in addition to their personal lives, they are susceptible to great amounts of stress. The amount of stress that is ensued by nursing students harms them both mentally and physically, leading to higher attrition rates both during school and their new careers, as well as on their relationships in the workplace. The stress effects nursing students negatively affecting their academic careers, as well as personal lives. This stress can continue to progress into their nursing careers if not combated. This paper will discuss the negative impacts associated with stress ensued by nursing students, as well as how to combat the stress to prevent it from discouraging student nurses and from continuing into their careers.
Many studies have been done to observe the effects of stressing on nursing students. The various studies looked at various sized groups, as well as various ages to understand the effects of stress on the students. Hector A. Olvera Alvarez and several other professors from the University of Texas at El Paso, the University of California, and Harvard University, had begun by obtaining students enrolled in BSN programs between the ages of 18 and 55 (Alvarez et al., 2019). They had accumulated data such as blood, saliva, and stool samples, as well as assessing biomarkers, both life stress and environmental exposure, behavioral and personality traits, social factors, engagement, and performance was collected from the participants over several years. It was collected 5 months into the nursing program, 4 months before graduation, and within 2 years of their careers to note how the stress had evolved (Alvarez et al., 2019). It was important for them to acquire the data to determine how life stress and health trends in nursing students, a group exposed to high amounts of stress, could increase their risks for health problems later in life. Upon completion of the study, Alvarez and his fellow professors were unable to determine how health conditions present in students throughout their education would influence their passage into the workplace (Alvarez et al., 2019). Knowing this, it is crucial that the learning and working environments of students are strengthened. This will allow a strong workforce of physical and emotionally well-equipped nurses to tackle the growing population and illnesses, as well as decreased the risk of health problems in students and new nurses.
Another important focus area for studying the effects of stress on nursing students is by examining the student’s commitment to their future career. As students enter undergraduate programs, they become more invested and driven in their academics to prepare for their future professions. As students become more invested, school administrators must be aware of the stress ensued by students at this time between their commitment to their academics and their familial influences. According to Riley, Collins, and Collins (2019), the influence of a student’s instructors, family, resources, and desire to grow in their nursing career directly influences their viewpoint of committing to their academic associated challenges. As students experience high amounts of stress in their programs, it may cause them to rethink nursing, leading to higher attrition rates in school and their new careers. Since the influences of administrators and family are highly valued, they are capable of guiding students to reduce stress and aid in their success. They should continuously educate students about the profession and ensure that students are aware of the vast opportunities in the profession (Riley et al., 2019). As students advance through their undergraduate programs, it is important they feel supported and motivated by their administrators and families, so they can be successful and less stressed.
When a person feels stressed, they tend to feel an emotional or physical tension in response to a challenge or demand, that can be very difficult on the mind and body. Everyone experiences stress, but it can be felt it many different ways. Nursing students typically feel stressed in a negative way. With the challenge and demands associated with undergraduate nursing programs, it can be very overwhelming and difficult to manage. A literature review done by Katrina Turner and Valerie Lander McCarthy had evaluated intervention strategies for stress and anxiety in nursing students, as well as their effectiveness. They had searched databases for articles relating to stress and anxiety, utilized specific criteria to choose the articles, and also reviewed the articles based upon certain stress theories by Lazarus, Folkman, Galbraith, and Brown (Turner & McCarthy, 2017). After studying the literature, the two could not determine if the stress management and coping interventions were effective because of the small sample sizes used and the contrasting designs of the studies. They had concluded that further research into beneficial coping and stress management strategies for students is critical and should be implemented early in their education to prevent chronic stress (Turner & McCarthy, 2017). When students are in their clinical settings and their careers after school, they play a major role in reducing their patients’ stress. They will promote a healing and calm environment, assess the patient’s coping strategies, and help develop new strategies. It is important that nurses and students not only do this for their patients but also do this for themselves to avert the negative impacts of stress and so they can better teach their patients.
- Alvarez, H. A. O., Provencio-Vasquez, E., Slavich, G. M., Laurent, J. G. C., Browning, M., Mckee Lopez, G., … Spengler, J. D. (2019). Stress and Health in Nursing Students. Nursing Research, 68(6), 453–463. doi: 10.1097/nnr.0000000000000383
- Riley, J. M., Collins, D., & Collins, J. (2019). Nursing student’s commitment and the mediating effect of stress. Nurse Education Today, 76, 172–177. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2019.01.018
- Turner, K., & McCarthy, V. L. (2017). Stress and anxiety among nursing students: A review of intervention strategies in literature between 2009 and 2015. Nurse Education in Practice, 22, 21–29. doi: 10.1016/j.nepr.2016.11.002