Mental health nursing practicum: student and mentor perspectives on stress and satisfaction

Nursing students begin to complete practicum experiences during their first year, increasing the number of applied credits as they progress toward degree completion. This contributes to integrating knowledge and skills from all of their courses and to obtaining the basic competencies of the nursing profession. It is also essential to identify the student's sources of stress in order to provide strategies to confront them and diminish the potential consequences. Therefore, it is a priority to ascertain the perception of stress and the stressors. This study applied both quantitatve and quality methods to achieve its objectives: to analyze the perception of stress and the stress-generatng factors faced by third- and fourth-year nursing students during the mental health practicum, and to determine satsfaction with the new mental health practicum in a student survey and in a focus group of mentor nurses. Study results identifed four major stress factors before students began the practicum: the dificulty of providing nursing care for the patent with a mental disorder, knowing how to react in an unfamiliar situation, lack of knowledge about mental health services, and the possibility of patent aggression. Only the later remained as a stressor afer the practicum was completed. Student satsfaction with the mental health practicum was highly positive. Mentor nurses were particularly satsfied with the changes in student follow-up and evaluation, emphasizing the importance of refective practice and students' self-management of their learning experience as set out by the European Higher Education Area ​
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