The importance of theory in student nurses' psychiatric practicum

R Lo, R Brown
International Journal of Psychiatric Nursing Research 1999, 5 (1): 542-52
This study aims to evaluate the importance of theory in enhancing student nurses' experiences in a rural psychiatric practicum and also identify positive, negative and potentially helpful factors which could be used to improve student nurses' psychiatric practicum. A pilot study of sixty-five undergraduate nursing students were given a questionnaire after their psychiatric practicum. Positive, negative and potentially helpful factors were derived from themes of their responses. Results indicated that theory played an important role in enhancing students' learning in their clinical practicum. Positive factors included interaction with clients; improvement of knowledge and understanding of mental health, thus dispelling myths; staff's professionalism, enthusiasm and acceptance of students; direct involvement with clients; diversity of learning opportunities and shift work. Negative factors related to nursing staff performance. Potentially helpful factors were those promoting goodness of fit between theory and practicum and characteristics of the clinical setting.

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