Compassion has been associated with the nursing profession since the days of Florence Nightingale. It is a general expectation that nurses should be compassionate when they are caring for people. In the United Kingdom (UK) concerns have been raised recently that nurses are failing to be compassionate as they carry out their nursing duties. There is little evidence within the literature of how student nurses perceive compassion as they engage in the pre-registration-nursing programme. In this study, I use narrative to produce case studies as a vehicle for the students to voice their perceptions of compassion. My ethnographic analysis of their stories is framed by my own experience as a professional registered nurse and nurse educator situated within their learning environment, and applies theories of compassion and learning. In my study, themes emerge that demonstrate commonalities, differences and tensions relating to the students’ individual beliefs and behaviours, and to the impact of their professional development as they transcend from university learning spaces into clinical practice.
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