Get access

The importance of clinical experience for mental health nursing – Part 2: Relationships between undergraduate nursing students’ attitudes, preparedness, and satisfaction


  • Brenda Happell, RN, RPN, BA (Hons), DipEd, BEd, MEd, PhD.

Brenda Happell, Department of Health Innovation and Centre for Social Science, CQUniversity Australia, Bruce Highway, Rockhampton, Qld 4701, Australia. Email:


ABSTRACT:  Clinical experience is consistently emphasized in research findings as the primary influence in encouraging more positive attitudes to mental health nursing. The available research, however, presents two major limitations. First, it does not measure the specific factors that might contribute to a positive clinical experience. Second, it does not consider the relationship between clinical experience and attitudes towards people experiencing a mental illness or towards mental health nursing. This is the second of a two-part paper presenting findings from a statewide survey of undergraduate nursing students in Victoria. A pre-/post-test design was used to measure the impact of clinical experience on the following subscales: (i) attitudes towards people experiencing a mental illness; (ii) attitudes toward mental health nursing; and (iii) preparedness for mental health practice. Subscale (iv) satisfaction with clinical experience was also measured in the post-test phase. The findings demonstrated an improvement on all three subscales in the post-test phase and a high level of satisfaction with clinical experience. Furthermore, a relationship between all four subscales was evident.