Joy as a Resurce of Vocational Growth in Nursing Studies

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Linna building, Väinö Linna auditorium, address: Kalevantie 5.

Heidi Kassara

Doctoral defence of Lic.Sc. (Health Care) Heidi Kassara

Ilo hoitotyön ammatin opiskelussa ammatillisen kasvun voimavarana (Joy as a Resurce of Vocational Growth in Nursing Studies)

The field of science of the dissertation is Education.

The opponent is docent Irma Kiikkala (University of Eastern Finland). Professor Anja Heikkinen acts as the custos.

The language of the dissertation defence is Finnish.

Joy as a Resource of Vocational Growth in Nursing Studies

The purpose of this qualitative study was to develop a theory of joy in nursing studies. The aim of this study was to yield theoretical knowledge of joy and its significance during nursing studies, and hence increase the experience of joy in vocational studies and possibly in other areas of life.   

The study answered the following questions: 1) What are the concepts of joy in nursing studies? 2) How do the concepts of joy relate to each other in nursing studies?  3) What is the nature of the empirically-based theory developed through the relationships between the concepts? 4) What are the experiences of joy in nursing studies?

The data of this qualitative research were collected  via interviews (three students), group discussions (three group discussions) and theme inquiries (249 students). The analysis was conducted by using a grounded theory method. The substantive theory consisted of five categories and the core category.

The first category consisted of “joy as a feeling in nursing studies”. According to the results joy in nursing studies manifested itself as wellbeing, happiness and rejoicing. Physically joy affected the heart, breathing, eyes and throat and there in feeling of tingling and relation of stress.  The opposite of joy was experienced as grief, disappointment, dullness and anger.

The second category consisted of “the emergence of joy in nursing studies”. In nursing studies the student´s personal situation, teacher, teaching and the environment of studies affected the experience of joy. The group members, group spirit, discussions, journeys and studies together were also likely to generate joy. Positive feedback, learning and succeeding in studies, exams and clinical practice were very important. In professional studies joy motivated, enhanced coping and made studies easier. The student´s energy increased and the happy feeling made one laugh and smile. Joy could be felt as an inspiring condition of happiness.
The third category described “joy extinguishing in nursing studies”. The opposite of joy was described as cheerlessness. Factors decreasing and extinguishing joy were for example problems in student group, difficulties in studying, problems in human relations, and even competition and loneliness. Also bad teaching or teachers, hurry and challenges in organizing studies can extinguish joy.

The fourth category “experiencing the significance of joy” was formed of a discovery that joy has significance in nursing studies. Joy lightened the studies, and provided ways to cope. Students experienced joy when stress and hurry were relieved. When someone was very happy, he could feel it in his body. He/she had more energy and was able to study more. It motivated, enhanced the meaningful and positive attitude of studying, and raised self-esteem.

The fifth category described “traces of joy”. Experiences that were memorable, educational and brought joy to students were for example performing clinical training both in the field and at school, and studying professional studies. Having been accepted to study nursing, the feeling of having chosen the right career, and finally the graduation were experienced as especially happy and meaningful events, or ‘pearls’ of joy.

The above categories constituted the core category of the study: “Joy as a resource of professional growth in nursing studies”. During their studies, nursing students felt they had grown both professionally and as humans.  Joy is a resource and it supports professional growth. Joy was a significant element in studies, for it motivated the students, facilitated learning, increased energy and was an educative resource.


The dissertation is published in the publication series of Acta Universitatis Tamperensis; 2336, Tampere University Press, Tampere 2017. The dissertation is also published in the e-series Acta Electronica Universitatis Tamperensis; 1841, Tampere University Press 2017.

The dissertation can be ordered at: Juvenes e-bookstore or by e-mail:

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