The experiences of final year student nurses of a higher education institution in the Western Cape regarding their preparedness for psychiatric clinical placement
Mrwetyana, Nomandla Abegail
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In South Africa, mental health nursing forms part of the basic (pre-registration) education of Professional Nurses, in order to equip them for employment as general nurses in the comprehensive health services of the country. Mental health nursing is an interpersonal process, in which counselling is aimed at supporting and facilitating healthy lifestyle functioning. At the higher education institution of interest, psychiatry nursing is incorporated at the final year level of nursing. The student nurses are prepared with the theory of psychiatric nursing, two weeks before their clinical placement in hospitals and clinics. At the end of the year, they are expected to pass both the theory and practical component. The aim of the study was to explore the experiences of final year student nurses, regarding their preparedness for psychiatric clinical placement. The objective of the study was to describe the experiences of the students, regarding their preparedness for psychiatric clinical placement. A descriptive design, with a qualitative approach, was used to explore and describe the phenomenon under investigation. The researcher used purposive sampling to select participants for the study from a population of final year student nurses of a higher education institution in the Western Cape. They met the sampling criteria because they knew a great deal about the phenomenon of interest, had completed the two-week orientation programme and worked in a clinical placement for at least three months. Their participation in the study was on a voluntary basis. The researcher used unstructured interviews to collect data from the participants. The data analysis was done following Coliazzi's seven steps. The findings indicated that the students were not prepared for their psychiatric placements, even though they attended a two-week orientation programme, prior to their placements. It was revealed that anxiety played a huge role in the unpreparedness of students. The participants, therefore, suggest that the orientation period be extended. The researcher, however, applauds the staff members in the clinical placements and urges them to maintain their positive attitude towards the students, as the participants acknowledged and appreciated their support.