Get access

How undergraduate nursing students learn to care for patients spiritually in clinical studies – a review of literature


  • Tove Giske PhD, RN

    Associate Professor, Corresponding author
    • Associate Professor, Haraldsplass Deaconess University College, Haraldsplass Deaconess Hospital, Bergen, Norway
    Search for more papers by this author


Tove Giske

Haraldsplass Deaconess University College

Haraldsplass Deaconess Hospital






To gain knowledge about what is known about how undergraduate nursing students learn to care for patients spiritually in their clinical studies.


Spirituality is related to meaning, hope and comfort and spiritual care is part of nurses’ responsibility. Clinical studies are vital for students to integrate knowledge, clinical reasoning and formation. However, nurses are important in role modelling.


A literature search was undertaken using international databases from 1980 to 2012. Articles were thoroughly evaluated and 10 papers reviewed for this article.


Four main areas emerged as essential for learning spiritual care in clinical studies: (1) the importance of learning in real-life situations with repeated exposure to patients in diverse placements; (2) use of pedagogical methods that assist students to understand, work with and reflect on patients’ spirituality; (3) to be aware of and overcome conditions prohibiting spiritual care learning; and (4) to see spiritual care learning in connection with how students are prepared and how they are followed up after clinical studies.


Clinical studies are fundamental to students’ learning of spiritual care in nursing.

Implications for nursing management

Nurse leaders play a key role in keeping holistic care a nursing focus and creating a good learning environment.

Get access to the full text of this article