Experience of stress in psychiatric nursing students in Ireland
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Experience of stress in psychiatric nursing students in Ireland

George Nolan Clinical placement co-ordinator, Nursing Practice Development Unit, Health Service Executive West, Limerick
Denis Ryan Senior lecturer, Department of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

Aim The aim of this study was to explore the experience of stress among psychiatric nursing students undertaking their ‘internship’ or final year of a four-year degree course.

Method A questionnaire was administered to all 28 students in the intern year in conjunction with the 28-item version of the General Health Questionnaire. Semi-structured interviews were subsequently undertaken with four volunteers from a range of clinical locations.

Findings Approximately 48% of respondents reported levels of stress above the threshold score as described by Goldberg (1978), indicating levels of distress unlikely to remit without intervention. Interview data suggested that the main sources of stress during the intern year were associated with relationships in the clinical environment; clinical workload; matching competence and responsibility; and simultaneous clinical and academic demands.

Conclusion The findings should be interpreted with caution and understood within the context of the dynamic nature of nurse education in Ireland. However, the issues raised demand further enquiry to examine the structure of educational programmes, the nature of the work and the organisational culture in which the work is carried out.

Nursing Standard. 22, 43, 35-43. doi: 10.7748/ns2008.



Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review