Psychiatric nurses and undergraduate nursing students' perceptions of preceptorship in the mental health setting

Rosemary Charleston, Brenda Happell
International Journal of Psychiatric Nursing Research 2005, 10 (3): 1166-78
The importance of clinical education for nursing is widely acknowledged and considerable effort has been invested into identifying the most effective models. Psychiatric nursing has the additional imperative of increasing recruitment into the field. While clinical experience has been found to influence nursing students' attitudes towards psychiatric nursing and people experiencing a mental illness, little attention has been paid towards the factors that influence these outcomes. This study addresses the question, what is the experience of preceptorship for mental health nurses and undergraduate nursing students' in the mental health setting? An examination of the interactions within this model and the development of a substantive theory are facilitated by utilising the qualitative methodological approach, grounded theory. Findings indicate that psychiatric nurse preceptors seek to accomplish connectedness in the preceptorship relationship, through overcoming fear and other misconceptions. In addition, a number of factors emerged where commonality exists between the experiences of mental health nurse preceptors andthe nursing students. These included the need to manage the reconciling of difference between general acute health and mental health settings, the challenge for both groups to address student fear and preconceived ideas of mental illness and the need of preceptors to 'protect' the students.

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