Stressors and coping mechanisms of associate in science in nursing students: a retrospective phenomenological study

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Nursing students experience increased amounts of stress during their educational experience, which can affect their mental and physical well-being. This impact can result in students who drop out of nursing school or failure of nursing courses. Stress is an experience most individuals experience in their lives. Learning to manage the stress can improve the chances for student success and increased graduation rates. If these students are unable to manage stress, their chances of becoming a practicing registered nurse decreases. There have been few studies on the incorporation of coping mechanisms that associate degree nursing students have utilized, aiding in their success. The purpose of this study was to examine the causes of the stress in associate degree nursing students and ultimately identify the coping mechanisms that successful students utilized. This research study explored the lived experiences of nine former associate degree nursing students who have graduated and are currently practicing nursing in the southeastern United States, providing a retrospective view of the phenomena of stress and coping. The results of this phenomenological study identified the main stressors of the former students and identified the coping mechanisms they used. The study found that the main stressors were examinations, clinical, simulation, and skills check off. The coping mechanisms the students used to manage their stress included a determination to succeed and relying on others to help them cope with the stress. Identification of the causes of stress and helpful coping mechanisms may allow for improved retention in nursing school, thus allowing more nurses to enter the workforce.

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