Clinical journals in the psychiatric setting : dominant themes and student-perceived efficacy

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Skinner, Elizabeth Anne
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education, 1996
Nursing students who are completing a practicum in the psychiatric setting tend to encounter a variety of issues and concerns which are rather unique to the psychiatric experience. The marked reduction in psychomotor task orientation found in other clinical areas and the sustained focus on the client's psychosocial needs tends to generate thoughts, feelings, opinions and attitudes which heretofore may not have received in-depth consideration. At the same time, because the clinical requirements of the setting may be perceived by students as unusual or even threatening, students generally require added support and guidance in order to build confidence in their roles. Using a modified grounded theory approach, this study examines the dominant themes identified in the writing of nursing students when they were asked to keep a daily clinical journal while assigned to the psychiatric setting. The purpose of the first part of the study was to determine the issues that are uppermost in students' minds as they progress through the clinical rotation. In the second part of the study, students' perceptions of/attitudes toward the exercise of journal writing were assessed by means of a survey which was completed by all participating students at the end of the clinical rotation. Results of the study indicate that students focused on five major issues or themes in their daily writing. Identification of the themes underscored the need for strong instructor support and preparation of nursing students who are about to enter a psychiatric practicum as well as ongoing support and communication as the practicum progresses. Student attitudes toward the effectiveness of journal writing as a learning tool were found to be generally favourable though students expressed some issues and reservations which will warrant further consideration in future planning of the journal writing experience.
ix, 92 leaves ; 28 cm. --
Psychiatric nursing -- Study and teaching , Nursing students -- Diaries , Nursing -- Study and teaching