Open Access
Melincavage, Sharon Marie
Graduate Program:
Adult Education
Doctor of Education
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
January 16, 2008
Committee Members:
  • Patricia Angelica Cranton, Committee Chair
  • Daniele D Flannery, Committee Member
  • Judith E Hupcey, Committee Member
  • Samuel William Monismith, Committee Member
  • anxiety
  • student nurses
  • clinical setting
  • nursing education
  • phenomenology
  • qualitative
ABSTRACT Anxiety! A word that can mean many things to many people and many things to the same person. A word that is likely to provoke uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. Anxiety usually has an effect on a person’s well-being and unfortunately, it may be an adverse effect. Anxiety can affect aspects of people’s lives that are of the utmost importance to them including learning and performance in educational settings. As a nursing instructor, I teach student nurses in a baccalaureate program of nursing that prepares students to become professional registered nurses. I encounter student nurses who experience anxiety while learning in the clinical setting. Hence, the primary purpose of this interpretive Heideggerian heuristic phenomenological study was to examine student nurses’ perception of anxiety in the clinical setting. More specifically, to investigate how student nurses make meaning of, interpret, and perceive their anxiety in the clinical setting. It was also the intent of this research study to investigate how student nurses contextualize, and/or understand their anxiety in the clinical setting. Situated cognition theory is the theoretical framework for this research study. The participants are from two baccalaureate programs of nursing in northeastern Pennsylvania. This research study helps nurse educators to understand the meaning of anxiety in student nurses in the clinical setting. Research has shown that anxiety is a factor in student nurses leaving nursing education programs. If nurse educators can better understand the anxiety of student nurses, they will be able to develop curricula and educational interventions to minimize the anxiety of student nurses and enhance learning in the clinical setting. The main method of data collection for this research study was in-depth, unstructured face-to-face interviews with 7 student nurse participants which were tape recorded and transcribed verbatim. A secondary source of data collection from these same participants was the creation of an artform where the student nurses expressed their anxiety artistically. This metaphor creation was accompanied by a focus group interview which also was tape recorded and transcribed verbatim. Additional secondary sources of data collection were documents such as clinical worksheets, journals, pictures, and artforms. The student nurses were asked if they have such documents to help them make meaning of their anxiety in the clinical setting. Field notes were used as a supplement to data collection. The data were analyzed using a thematic analysis. Seven themes emerged from the data and were reported in the rich descriptive words of the participants: (a) Experiencing Inexperience, (b) Being Demeaned, (c) Being Exposed, (d) Unrealistic Expectations, (e) Being Abandoned, (f) Sensing Difference, and (g) Being Uncertain of Ability.