Emotional Work and Diversity in Clinical Placements of Nursing Students


Dr. Daniella Arieli, Department of Nursing/Sociology and Anthropology, The Max Stern Yezreel Valley College (YVC), Emek Yezreel 19500, Israel.

E-mail: daniellaa@yvc.ac.il



To learn how students experience clinical placements in a setting of diversity and how they cope with the emotional challenges involved.


This study is based on inductive, qualitative research undertaken with Israeli nursing students.


In-depth interviews were conducted with 20 students: 10 Arabs (5 men and 5 women), 9 Jews (2 men and 7 women), and 1 Circassian. The interviews were analyzed through coding and categorization.


The students’ experiences are characterized by emotional strains of various sorts—stress, ambivalence, disgust, frustration, and conflict—that arise in three types of relationships: relationships with patients, with the clinical instructors, and with other students who are on their teams. The data show that diversity has an impact on all these relationships. The data further show that the students cope with the emotional strains by using several strategies of emotional work: distancing, self-strengthening, self-motivation work, and minimizing significance.

Conclusions and Implications

(a) Nursing students’ experiences during their clinical placements should be understood in terms of emotional challenges, and their emotional work and coping strategies call for appropriate forms of support. (b) The diversity of the clinical placement environment should be considered as an important factor, both in understanding students’ experiences and learning processes and in designing the support that they need.

Clinical Relevance

Culturally diverse settings entail distinct challenges that impact students’ emotional reaction to clinical work. Understanding the types of emotional work students do in the process of their clinical experience is critical for educators seeking to promote genuinely caring and effective nursing in culturally diverse settings.