Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

School Name

College of Health Professions


Health Professions

Major Advisor

Dr. Barbara Jackson


Anxiety in nursing students can impact learning. Literature has shown that nursing students, especially those in second-degree nursing programs, report higher stress levels compared to other undergraduate students (Penprase & Koczara, 2009). Nursing clinicals can be jarring for students and present many stressors that can impeded learning and cause poor clinical performance. Much research has been done about traditional undergraduate students’ feelings of anxiety. There is a noted gap in research of second-degree, accelerated nursing students and their feelings about their initial clinical placement. Comparisons have often been made between traditional and nontraditional students, but the lived experiences of second-degree students have not been explored in detail. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore anxiety experienced by second-degree nursing students prior to and during their initial nursing clinical. The qualitative method that was used was a hermeneutic phenomenology. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to examine participants’ lived experiences with anxiety about their initial nursing clinical. Data from interviews were thematically analyzed. Themes were developed from the data revealing the causes and alleviations of anxiety as context and were then reframed to understand the phenomenon of anxiety in first semester accelerated nursing students. Themes include fear, interpersonal relationships, gaps in knowledge, expectations, reflection, resilience, and autonomy. All but two themes were identified both prior to starting and after completion of the initial clinical. Characteristics that contributed to anxiety were also analyzed. The findings of this research study can be used to incorporate ways to reduce anxiety into nursing curriculum, to identify modifiable causes of anxiety and to offer support to those who experience anxiety. Lastly, recommendations from this study includes ways to improve overall retention and attrition rates in accelerated nursing programs by reducing anxiety in accelerated nursing students.

Available for download on Tuesday, November 19, 2024