Mrs Gemma Hurley

Research project: An exploration of nurse educators' meaning of compassion in pre-registration nursing


My study uses a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to understand the meaning of compassion through exploring nurse educators' lived experiences. As a nurse educator working in a Higher Education Institution in the United Kingdom (UK), I am concerned about nursing's perceived lack of compassion (Francis, 2013) which may have contributed to an erosion of public trust in the profession (Care Quality Commission (CQC), 2011; 2017) and could lead to a sense of vulnerability within nursing students (Curtis, Horton and Smith, 2012). Nurse educators are expected to recapture and sustain compassion in professional practice (Willis, 2012; 2015). The Nursing and Midwifery Council (2018) new standards for pre-registration nurse education stipulate that professional values such as compassion will be embedded in the curriculum. Whilst nurse educators have responded with a plethora of ideas on how compassion could be developed in education, there seems to be contesting notions as to what the phenomenon means.

The Research Question:

How do nurse educators make meaning of compassion and understand its role in their professional practice in a UK HEI?


  • How do nurse educators make meaning of compassion?
  • What are nurse educators' lived experiences of compassion in a UK HEI?
  • How do nurse educators perceive the meanings of compassion are influencing their pedagogical practices in a UK HEI?
  • Research degree: EdD
  • Title of project: An exploration of nurse educators' meaning of compassion in pre-registration nursing
  • Other research supervisor: Professor Katherine Curtis


I am a registered general nurse who qualified in 1991 and have been working as an advanced nurse practitioner within primary care for over twenty years. As an Advanced Nurse Practitioner, I have worked in a wide range of primary care settings in regions such as Scotland, London and Brighton.  I have been a nurse educator since 2006 and teach in the pre-registration and postgraduate nursing programmes. I am the pathway coordinator for Advanced Clinical Practice within workforce development education. My interest lies in exploring issues around the integration of the technical aspects of caring with the art of nursing. I am the representative for our University at the Association for Advanced Practice Educators that has a strong influence on shaping pedagogical strategies in Advanced Practice. As part of my Doctorate in Education studies, I am currently undertaking my research project on exploring nurse educators' meaning of compassion that might influence their professional practice.

Areas of research interest

  • Exploring the meaning of Compassion through lived experiences
  • Nursing and Nurse education: Facilitating compassion
  • Advanced Clinical Practice
  • Clinical Reasoning


  • 1990 RGN
  • 1994 RM
  • 1997 BSc Hons Nurse Practitioner (Primary care)
  • PGCE 2007
  • MSc Healthcare Practice 2008

Funding or awards received

  • Funding From The Graduate Research School to present my Research Methodology July 2019 at a symposium at UCLAN


Hurley, G. (2018) 'Clinical Decision making' in Delves- Yates, C. (ed.) Essentials of Nursing Practice. 2nd Edn. London: Sage Publications ltd. 

Hurley, G. (2016) 'Nursing around the world', British Journal of Nursing, 25(9), p. 504 

Hurley, G. (2007) 'Anaemia: Overview and management', Primary Health care, 17(6) pp. 25-30.

Conference papers

Presentation of my work in progress at an international symposium held at the University of Central Lancashire in July 2019. My presentation focused on the use of Hermeneutic Phenomenology as a Research Methodology in my study;  'An exploration of nurse educators' meaning of compassion in pre-registration nursing education within a Higher Education Institution (HEI) in the United Kingdom (UK)' .