Health Sciences Education Symposium

First Author Information

Mary L. Falk, MSN, RN, CCRN, PCCN, CNL, Clinical Instructor, VCU School of Nursing, Department of Adult Health and Nursing Systems

Presentation Format


Type of Activity


Original Presentation Date


Date of Submission

May 2017

Abstract/Short Description

Undergraduate nursing students have historically learned to focus on the clinical and technical components of patient care. There is an increasing body of literature about the importance of incorporating empathy into healthcare curricula, and various techniques, such as role modelling, have been utilized. The increasing complexity and demands on nurses, and other healthcare providers, in today's healthcare system have led to a higher incidence of burnout and turnover. It is recognized that patients have felt the effects of this burnout in that they cite feeling a lack of connection and empathy from their clinical providers. We have sought to create a new learning experience that integrates traditional teaching methods with real patients’ lived experiences.

Purpose/Research Question

The purpose of this study is to determine if including a patient’s narrative about surviving a cardiac arrest to the traditional teaching methods of didactic content and simulation increases the level of empathy in senior level baccalaureate nursing students.


1. To develop an integrated teaching method that includes didactic material, bedside clinical experience, simulation, and the patients’ subsequent lived experience.

2. To develop nurses who engage in empathetic practice, which will lead to optimal patient outcomes, personal and professional growth, and enhanced career satisfaction.


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Halpern, J. (2003). What is Clinical Empathy? Journal of General Internal Medicine, 18(8), 670–674. Retrieved from

Hojat, M., Vergare, M., Maxwell, K., Brainard G., Herrine, S., Isenberg G., Veloski J., & Gonnella J. (2009). The Devil is in the Third Year: A Longitudinal Study of Erosion of Empathy in Medical School. Academic Medicine, 84(9), 1182-1191. Retrieved from

Sheehan, C., Perrin, K., Potter, M., Kazanowski, M., & Bennett, L. A. (2013). Engendering empathy in baccalaureate nursing students. International Journal of Caring Sciences, 6(3), 456. Retrieved from

Ward, J., Cody, J., Schaal, M., & Hojat, M. (2012). The Empathy Enigma: An Empirical Study of Decline in Empathy Among Undergraduate Nursing Students. Journal of Professional Nursing, 28(1), 34-40. Retrieved from

Williams, J. & Stickley, T. (2010). Empathy and Nurse Education. Nurse Education Today, 30(8), 752-755. Retrieved from


© The Author(s)

Is Part Of

VCU Medical Education Symposium