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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Nursing




Volunteering is engaged in by millions world-wide and nurses comprise a significant portion of those who provide their professional talents, unpaid, to the underserved in local, national and international efforts. Nurses who have engaged in volunteer activities anecdotally describe personally transforming experiences gained through their efforts and for many nurses volunteering becomes part of their professional mandate. Although many social disciplines have studied volunteering, to date there has been a paucity of research on nurses who volunteer. The purpose of this study was to describe the characteristics of novice nurses who volunteer and determine the influence of volunteering and associated characteristics on their self-reported caring behaviors and their satisfaction with career choice. This was a quantitative survey study with several open-ended questions. A descriptive, correlational design was used to determine the effect of spirituality, altruism and pro-socialness on nurse volunteerism and how volunteerism mediates caring behavior and satisfaction with career choice in the new nurse. Those in the final data set were mainly young, White non-Hispanic female novice nurses who attained baccalaureate degrees as their basic nursing education (n= 1023). Nearly two thirds of respondents reported as having volunteered and mostly at the local level. Significant findings include that volunteering is positively influenced by participation in non-school related, voluntary volunteer activity and negatively influenced by required volunteer activity. Caring behavior was positively influenced by local volunteer activity that was non-school related, voluntary volunteer activity. Volunteering did not influence satisfaction with career choice, although the measurement tool did not yield adequate internal consistency and reliability. Spirituality, altruism and pro-socialness were each positively correlated with caring behavior and satisfaction with career choice. Volunteerism in nursing was not found to mediate the relationship between spirituality, altruism and pro-socialness and either caring behavior or satisfaction with career choice. The sixth Caritas Process of Watson’s Theory of Transpersonal Caring (2012) requires the creative use of self. The findings of this study reveal that the novice nurse who engages in purely voluntary volunteer activity may be able to nurture caring behaviors through that interaction. Education may need to revisit how undergraduate service learning is done. Practice should not only consider previous volunteer experience of prospective RN staff but also provide ongoing opportunities to engage in volunteer activities. Further research should focus on other outcome variables of volunteering in nursing such as job satisfaction, career mobility and mentoring.

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