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Learning essentials: What graduates of mental health nursing programmes need to know from an industry perspective

Authors

  • Margaret McAllister MHN, EdD, RN,

    Professor of Nursing
    1. Institute for Health and Social Science Research, Central Queensland University, Noosaville, Qld, Australia
    2. Centre for Mental Health Nursing Innovation, Noosaville, Qld, Australia
    3. School of Nursing and Midwifery, Noosaville, Qld, Australia
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  • Brenda Happell PhD, MEd, RN, RPN, BA, Dip Ed, BEd,

    Professor and Director, Corresponding author
    1. Institute for Health and Social Science Research, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Qld, Australia
    2. Centre for Mental Health Nursing Innovation, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Qld, Australia
    3. School of Nursing and Midwifery, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Qld, Australia
    • Correspondence: Professor Brenda Happell, Engaged Research Chair in Mental Health Nursing, Director, Institute for Health and Social Science Research, Director, Centre for Mental Health Nursing Innovation, and Professor, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Central Queensland University, Bruce Hwy, Rockhampton, Queensland, 4702, Australia. Telephone: +61 07 49232164.

      E-mail: b.happell@cqu.edu.au

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  • Trudi Flynn PhD

    Post-doctoral Research Fellow
    1. Institute for Health and Social Science Research, Central Queensland University, Noosaville, Qld, Australia
    2. Centre for Mental Health Nursing Innovation, Noosaville, Qld, Australia
    3. School of Nursing and Midwifery, Noosaville, Qld, Australia
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Abstract

Aims and Objectives

To explore the perspectives of nursing directors in mental health in Queensland, Australia, regarding the skills and attributes of graduates of comprehensive nursing programme to provide an industry perspective and thus augment knowledge from theoretical and professional dimensions.

Background

There is a worldwide shortage of appropriately qualified nurses with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to work effectively in mental health services. Within Australia, this has been well documented since the introduction of comprehensive nursing education. The underrepresentation of mental health content in undergraduate curricula has been identified as the primary reason for nursing graduates not being adequately prepared for practice in this field. To date, this issue has primarily been addressed from the perspective of university academics, with the voice of industry relatively silent in the published literature.

Design

Qualitative exploratory.

Method

In-depth telephone interviews with Director of Nursing (Mental Health) in Queensland, Australia.

Results

The concerns of participants were expressed in six main themes: (1) foundational knowledge of mental health and disorders, (2) recovery-oriented skills, (3) physical as well as mental health skills, (4) therapeutic strategies, (5) resilience and self-development and (6) advanced knowledge and skills.

Conclusions

The education of comprehensive nursing education needs to be reviewed as a matter of priority to ensure graduates with the attributes required to provide high-quality care for consumers of mental health services.

Relevance to clinical practice

A skilled and knowledgeable workforce is an essential component of high-quality mental health services. Research highlighting the current deficits and issues is therefore of the highest priority.

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