The impact of a practice-based educational strategy on the development of spiritual competencies of nursing students

Ydelette van der Vis-Sietsma*, Janneke M. de Man-van Ginkel, René R. van Leeuwen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Education, and especially clinical practice, is important for developing spiritual competencies in nursing students. This descriptive qualitative study, conducted in the Netherlands between January-May 2016, provides insight into the impact of a practice-based educational strategy to develop the perceived spiritual competencies of nursing students, and identifies factors that influence their learning experiences. The strategy consisted of a spiritual care assignment undertaken during a clinical placement. It comprised a theoretical perspective on spirituality; an interview with a patient about spirituality; a description of the student’s vision of spiritual care; and a reflective report describing the learning experience. Participants were third-year bachelor nursing students from a Christian University in the Netherlands. Data were collected by means of reflective reports (n = 30) and through semi-structured interviews (n = 9). The assignment increased the spiritual awareness of students and the nursing team; stimulated students’ ability to communicate with patients about spirituality; and influenced students’ personal experiences with spiritual care. Factors influencing learning experiences included personal perceptions; interaction with others; role models; clinical setting; and preparation. The assignment contributed to the development of competencies related to spiritual awareness and collection of information about patients’ own spirituality and needs. Peer groups should be organized in which nursing students can discuss their learning experiences. More research is needed to develop educational strategies focusing on the nursing process and integration of spirituality in organisational policies. This study is limited by the sample of mainly female and Christian participants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-48
Number of pages17
JournalJournal for the Study of Spirituality
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2019


  • Clinical practice
  • nursing education
  • professional competence
  • spiritual care competency
  • spirituality
  • students nursing


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