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Psychiatric/mental health nursing education in Victoria, Australia : barriers to specialization
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Brenda Happell
The introduction of undergraduate comprehensive nursing education in Victoria, Australia, during the 1990s has resulted in significant changes in undergraduate preparation for psychiatric/mental health nursing. Comprehensive programs became charged with the responsibility of preparing graduates to provide care for people experiencing a mental illness across a broad range of health-care settings, as well as providing a pathway for graduates with an interest in specialist practice in this field. The aim of this article is to clearly articulate the issues associated with psychiatric/mental health nursing education at the undergraduatel evel, including prevalence of mental illness, the inadequacy o fpsychiatric/mental health nursing theory and practice at undergraduate level, the negative attitudes of students toward this field of practice, and the subsequent failure of nursing education and practice initiatives to provide a clear mechanism for specialization in this important area of nursing practice. Throughout the article, the distinction between generalist and specialist preparation is argued and accompanied by a call for nursing education to recognize and address the issues associated with both domains.