Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development > Vol. 2, No. 2 (2005)

'The Psychiatric Consumer': the use of student stories to inform course development

Julie A Bradshaw, CQU
Lorna Moxham, CQU

Abstract

With one in five Australians likely to experience the burden of a major mental illness (Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care Services, 1997), undergraduate nursing programs must prepare graduates to be able to work in the area of mental health. A change to the undergraduate-nursing curriculum at Central Queensland University provided the impetus to review the traditional way in which we develop and teach our subjects. The authors saw it as essential to develop a psychiatric nursing subject that not only teaches the student the necessary skills and knowledge to safely and effectively care for the mentally ill person, but one that facilitated the development of positive attitudes towards the mentally ill. During a recent elective mental health course, students were asked to write a reflective paper describing a significant interaction that they had with a mentally ill person. The authors then conducted a qualitative research project that allowed them to undertake a thematic content analysis of students' reflections. Results indicated that almost all the participants demonstrated positive attitudes towards the mentally ill with their papers describing interactions that were often profound. This research is important as results are contributing towards the development of a new subject. Authentic student learning will be enhanced as subject development is grounded in the student's reality. This paper presents the results of this study and how the results of this research project are informing the development of a subject in the new Bachelor of Nursing program called 'The Psychiatric Consumer'.

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