Get access

The working experiences of novice psychiatric nurses in Taiwanese culture: a phenomenological study



Accessible summary

  • Novice psychiatric nurses work in a profession that is poorly regarded and receive insufficient training in Taiwan.
  • Struggling, emulating, prevailing and belonging were experienced by novice nurses as they worked towards becoming a part of the psychiatric nursing staff.
  • Awareness of problems such as lacking a sense of security, professional competency and having little understanding of mental illness is needed in order to help nurses in providing appropriate care for clients.


Novice psychiatric nurses experience heavy workloads, insufficient training and support in Taiwan. The aim of this study was to understand the working experiences of novice psychiatric nurses during their first year in a clinical setting. A qualitative phenomenological approach, using semi-structured face-to-face interviews was used. Narratives were analyzed using Colaizzi's seven-step method. Data saturation was reached after interviews were conducted with 15 nurses based on the purposive sampling. Four themes and eight sub-themes were identified: struggling (lacking a sense of security and competency), emulating (learning the process of interaction with clients and families, learning an appropriate role from nursing staff), prevailing (developing core competency, creating a therapeutic environment) and belonging (coping with the job, becoming a part of the psychiatric nursing staff). The findings from this study demonstrate that nurses are often inadequately prepared for psychiatric nursing. They have little understanding of mental illness, are unable to communicate appropriately with clients and struggle to cope with the conditions. Our study supports the importance for helping nurses to improve their essential knowledge and skills for coping with the job and providing good quality care, particularly in the first year.