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Literature and Empathy in Nursing Students
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1  West Coast University, Miami


As the world becomes more diverse, effectiveness of interaction and empathy continue to decrease. In the nursing career, it is important to keep an open mind and an empathetic heart to execute the maximum quality of care. Fiction literature has proven to engender prosocial skills along with empathy and cognitive participation. FMRIs have shown significant correlations between literary pieces and neural activity in parts of the brain associated with empathy. Because nursing students have shown tremendous decrease in empathy approaching their graduation date, this study tests the effectiveness of fiction literature to prove the enhancement of empathy in the nursing students. This research included an equal number of female and male participants entering the nursing program at West Coast University. Subjects were evaluated on empathy before entering the program, then once more as they were about to graduate. The participants were divided into two groups; one of them received a fiction literature course that focused on empathy and the other did not. The group that was enrolled in the fiction literature course excelled remarkably compared to the group who was not stimulated through fiction literature. Because fiction literature allows nursing students (through guided imagery and other literary tools), the group with the additional course comprehended empathy and embraced it better than the control group.

Keywords: empathy, nursing, nursing students, fiction, literature