Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master Of Science In Nursing

Colleges & School

Ruth S. Coleman College Of Nursing And Health Sciences

First Advisor

Ruth M. Waite, PhD, RN

Library of Congress Subject Heading

Nurses--Education; Psychiatric nursing


The purpose of this inquiry was to gain information on how mental health nursing is being taught in Wisconsin. Research has suggested that nursing students who are exposed to mental health clients demonstrate less bias, stereotyping and fear, and an increased knowledge and comfort level with mental health clients. The trend toward an integrated nursing curriculum reduced or eliminated the opportunity for nursing students to work with persons with a psychiatric diagnosis. This lack of contact may influence the number of nurses choosing mental health as a career, potentially decreasing the quality of care for this population. The literature also proposed that since psychiatric inpatient stays are getting shorter, nurses are exposed to clients with mental health disorders in a variety of settings; thus it is important for all nurses to have psychiatric nursing knowledge. A two-part mixed design survey was developed addressing mental health theory and clinical hours, clinical locations and application of mental health concepts in a separate or integrated nursing curriculum. Respondents were asked to share rationale for program type and concerns for teaching mental health nursing today. Surveys were addressed to Deans/designees of all 30 Collegiate Commission on Nursing Education and National League for Nursing accredited nursing schools in the state of Wisconsin. The response rate was 76%. Results indicated that the majority of students (integrated curriculum 100% and separate curriculum 64%) worked with a client with a psychiatric disorder whose primary reason for entering the healthcare system was not for mental health treatment. This exposure occurred in a variety of nonpsychiatric settings including hospital, outpatient and community clinical sites. The majority of respondents (73%) reported a separate mental health curriculum. Despite the diversity of opinion around how mental health nursing should be taught, the consensus of respondents indicated that mental health nursing is deemed of value in the nursing curriculum.


Open Access

OCLC Number


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Included in

Nursing Commons