Emotional intelligence increases over time: a longitudinal study of Australian pre-registration nursing students
Foster, K, Fethney, J, McKenzie, H, Fisher, M, Harkness, E & Kozlowski, D 2017, 'Emotional intelligence increases over time: a longitudinal study of Australian pre-registration nursing students', Nurse Education Today, vol. 55, pp. 65-70.
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BACKGROUND: Emotional intelligence (EI) has been associated with positive outcomes for nursing students. Higher EI is associated with personal wellbeing and stress management, higher academic performance, stronger nursing leadership and practice performance, and greater patient safety. While there is an increasing body of evidence on nursing students' EI, there is minimal evidence on EI over time during pre-registration programs.
OBJECTIVES: To measure EI in pre-registration nursing students from program commencement to conclusion to ascertain EI over time and examine the relationship between EI and academic performance.
DESIGN AND SETTING: Longitudinal repeated measures study between March 2010-February 2013 at a metropolitan university in Australia.
PARTICIPANTS: 111 nursing students (74.8% female) contributed data on at least two occasions. Participants were enrolled in a pre-registration Master of Nursing degree. Half the cohort (55.0%) comprised Graduate Entry students who completed the course in two years full time. The other 45% were enrolled in an undergraduate degree in arts, science or health science, combined with the same pre-registration Master of Nursing Degree. These students completed their Combined Degree program in four years full time. Participants had a mean age of 24.7years (SD=7.36).
METHODS: EI was measured for commencing students (T1) using the Assessing Emotions Scale (AES), then a further three times: end of first year (T2; 9 months follow up); beginning of second year (12 months follow up; T3) and end of the program (T4; 24/36 months follow up).
RESULTS: Students' EI was found to increase across the program; one subscale of EI (managing others' emotions) was related to higher academic performance; and there was a significant increase in the Utilising Emotions subscale scores over time.
CONCLUSIONS: Pre-registration nurse education contributes to strengthening students' EI over time. Specific EI education scaffolded throughout programs is recommended in pre-registration curricula.