Views and experiences of mental health nurses working with undergraduate assistants in nursing in an acute mental health setting

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 2012, 21 (2), pp. 184 - 190
Issue Date:
2012-04-01
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Undergraduate nurses are employed as assistants in nursing (AIN) in inpatient mental health settings; however, there is a paucity of published research exploring registered nurses' (RN) views about the AIN role in these settings. This qualitative study documents the views and experiences of RN working with undergraduate AIN. Fifty structured face-to-face interviews were analysed, and the results are discussed in three sections. The first section outlines RN perceptions of qualities and skills required of AIN in mental health, and the responses primarily focus on communication skills, initiative, and willingness to learn. The second section targets factors in the workplace that might enhance the interest of AIN in a mental health nursing career; the responses emphasize their need to work with experienced staff. The last section outlines RN expectations of AIN, most of which are met and involve physical observations and technical tasks; less fulfilled activities primarily cluster around interactions with patients. Findings highlight the advantages and disadvantages of drawing on undergraduate nursing students as AIN in mental health settings. Communication skills, personal initiative, safety training to prevent violence, and education to increase knowledge and awareness about mental illness, diagnosis, and mental status-related skills were all important concerns articulated by RN. © 2011 The Authors. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing © 2011 Australian College of Mental Health Nurses Inc.
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