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Teaching nursing students using an adaptation of the spirit of motivational interviewing: an action research case-study

Vernon, John (2016) Teaching nursing students using an adaptation of the spirit of motivational interviewing: an action research case-study. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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This study examines the impact that a teaching adaptation to the clinical engagement strategy known as the Spirit of Motivational Interviewing had on the attitudes, values and beliefs of qualified nursing students towards their own learning. This Spirit of Motivational Interviewing consists of several constructs (partnership, acceptance, compassion and evocation) and the proposed adaptation for the purposes of teaching is the addition of the construct of self-awareness. In order to qualify and practice as a nurse, the Nursing and Midwifery Council require that the delivery of care is based on the person-centred values of acceptance, respect and empathic understanding. Role modelling has been traditionally used as a way to transmit these values, but the creation of much larger classes as a result of a move by nurse education into universities has made this far more difficult to achieve. The study examines research that suggests the deployment of the person-centred approach of Carl Rogers by educators leads to improvements to a range of outcomes such as motivation, self-esteem, grades, disruptive behaviour and absenteeism. It takes the position that the use of the adapted Spirit of Motivational Interviewing can transform learning, leading to changes to the attitudes, values and beliefs of students so that they become less distorted and prejudicial and more open, expansive and discerning. Participants in the study were a group of qualified nursing students on a substance misuse course, and their teachers. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected. In order to ascertain views about the nature of teaching and learning, interviews were conducted with both nursing students and with teaching staff, and the students were asked to complete empathy questionnaires. Findings from the quantitative data revealed a statistically significant increase in student empathy at the end of the substance misuse module. The qualitative data indicated that the students and nurse teachers interviewed shared similar views about the value of forming collaborative relationships in order to enhance the learning potential of students, and this was best achieved through a process of encouraging and validating student experiences. Students felt that the willingness of teachers to share aspects of themselves was important in relationship formation. Some felt that attendance at the module had moved them in the direction of becoming more person-centred when they engaged with patients and clients. When an adaptation to the Spirit of Motivational Interviewing is used for the purposes of teaching nursing students it seems able to increase student engagement in learning. When self-awareness, partnership, acceptance, compassion and evocation is shown by the teacher and through a process of role modelling and reciprocity by the students, it appears to be capable of changing the attitudes of students to becoming more person-centred towards the care of patients and clients. The study suggests that this teaching approach should be considered by all schools of nursing as a way of transmitting these values.

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