The clinical experiences of mature mental health nursing students in Ireland

Keogh, B., O'Brien, F. and Neenan, K. (2009) The clinical experiences of mature mental health nursing students in Ireland. Nurse Education in Practice, 9 (4). pp. 271-276. ISSN 14715953 (ISSN)


Mental health nursing has traditionally attracted a high level of mature applicants and this trend has not altered since the introduction of the Bachelor in Science in Nursing programme. The literature suggests that for many mature students, entering into nurse education is the fulfilment of a lifelong ambition. However, in reality they face many challenges not always shared by their younger classmates. The aim of this paper is to explore the clinical experiences of mature students in the field of mental health nursing. A qualitative descriptive method was utilised to guide the research with a focus group being the method of data collection. Current mental health mature nursing students in one urban university were invited to participate. Data were analysed using content analysis. Findings revealed that overall the students in this study found their clinical experiences invaluable. However, sometimes mature students were given roles and responsibilities beyond their scope of practice because of their age and apparent experience. This often conflicted with their supernumerary status and compounded the differences between them and their traditional counterparts. This was not perceived as negative by the students themselves as it contributed to a wider range of learning experiences. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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