Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Education

Primary Advisor

Dr. Susan Stanley

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary Grant

Third Advisor

Dr. Thomas J Gollery


Nurses are expected to respond to the spiritual and emotional needs of patients with compassionate care. Patients yearn for a connection with their nurse that assures them they are safe and will be provided with holistic care. A healing environment can be established for the patient by providing spiritual and emotional care. Many practicing nurses state they are uncomfortable addressing the spiritual and emotional needs of their patients. A gap exists between what is taught to nursing students and the expectations of nurses in the clinical setting. Students’ perceptions of their confidence and competence in providing spiritual care to patients was measured in three phases. Phase I provided a baseline, Phase II measured students’ perceptions of confidence and competence after reviewing the Key Phrases and Caring Behaviors© chart. Phase III measured students’ perceptions after participating in a simulation focusing on spiritual distress. The simulation demonstrated statistically significant improvement in students’ perceptions. Integrating caring into all simulations is essential to have fully competent and confident nurses prepared to provide spiritual and emotional care. The students can be taught appropriate responses to a patient’s emotional and spiritual needs by reviewing suggested phrases and behaviors as a pre-simulation activity. Inserting holistic needs in simulations is realistic because every patient in the clinical setting has spiritual and emotional needs.