• personal construct theory;
  • psychiatric;
  • repertory grid technique;
  • students’ perceptions;
  • practicum

Students’ perceptions of their psychiatric mental health clinical nursing experience: a personal construct theory exploration

Personal construct theory and repertory grid technique provides a suitable framework for exploring Registered Nursing students’ perceptions of their psychiatric practicum. This descriptive research was designed to understand students’ own ways of constructing knowledge during their mental health clinical experience. A constructivist conceptual perspective and George Kelly’s personal construct psychology were the theoretical bases of the research. A qualitative case study methodology allowed creation of and reflection on personal construct changes as provided in participants’ review of repertory grid ideas about psychiatric nursing. The participants were six Canadian second-year nursing students in a Baccalaureate programme that integrated psychiatric and medical surgical nursing curricula. The following three overarching themes were identified and are used to explain and describe significant features of the psychiatric clinical experience: 1) students’ anxiety related more to feeling unable to help than to interactions with mentally ill patients; 2) students’ feelings of a lack of inclusion in staff nurse groups; 3) student emphasis on the importance of nonevaluated student-instructor discussion time.