Sources and Strategies to Address Nursing Student Stress in the Clinical Setting: A Literature Review


  • Sarah Bainey
  • Rebecca Toothaker
  • Devon Manney


The American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s (AACN) (2017) report shows that there are 17,725 nursing students enrolled in baccalaureate programs in the United States. One in three college students have reported that stress has had a negative impact on their school performance (ACHA). The purpose of the review article is to study and synthesize the sources of stressors among baccalaureate nursing students in relation to the clinical practicum, and effective ways to manage those stressors. A literature review was conducted using the following key words: “undergraduate,” “baccalaureate nursing students,” “stress,” and “clinical”. The databases used to search for relevant literature included: EBSCOhost, CINAHLhost, Academic Search Complete, and Science Direct. All articles were selected from peer-reviewed journals. Using the following eligibility criteria--articles that addressed the unique experiences of baccalaureate nursing students and stress in the clinical environment, ten articles were selected from 2015-2017 for use in this literature review. The findings indicated that the most common generators of student nurse stress included: inexperience and insufficient knowledge, risk for patient harm, risk of patient death and the lack of support from faculty/nurses. Meditation, adequate sleep, exercise, music listening and utilizing faculty for help are all creative strategies to combat nursing student stress. In conclusion, the literature revealed that baccalaureate nursing students are experiencing varying degrees of stress in response to clinical situations. Strategies for assisting nursing students experiencing clinical stress warrants further exploration to identify effective prevention and coping strategies and modification of the clinical context in ways that minimize stress.