An exploration of the socialisation of student mental health nurses in compassionate mental health nursing practice: A constructivist enquiry.




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


This study aimed to develop in-depth understanding of the specific factors in practice placements that influenced student mental health nurse socialisation in compassionate practice. As per the underpinning constructivist research paradigm and case study methodology, multiple sources of data were accessed through two phases of data collection. Phase one, utilised student mental health nurse focus groups. Phase two of the study; a single site case study of an area recommended by student nurses as facilitating their socialisation in compassionate mental health nursing practice, utilised triangulation of placement observations and semi-structured individual interviews with students, and case study site team staff during case study site access. A grounded theory approach to data analysis was implemented to enhance the robust analysis of data gathered. Findings from phase one focus groups, presents two overarching themes uncovered in the data: “All in this together” and “Everyone for themselves”. “All in this together” contains eight themes of student experiences in practice placements that supported student socialisation in compassionate nursing practice. The experiences resulted in students undergoing an opening up to compassion, in which they were able to internalise the value of engagement in compassionate practice as a giver of compassion. Students experienced a journey of socialisation in compassion from a recipient to a giver. The journey was underpinned by a sense of having permission to engage in compassionate practice. The eight themes explored under “Everyone for themselves” were the antithesis of the themes of “All in this together”. The experiences of “Everyone for themselves” resulted in students undergoing a closing down to both the desire to be compassionate, and the scope for them to engage in compassionate practice. Students became introspective and abandoned their compassionate ideals to focus on self-protection and self-preservation. Findings from the phase two case study, present the characteristics of the case and explores the factors that facilitated student socialisation in compassionate mental health nursing 3 practice. These were captured in the overarching themes “That’s what makes it such an amazing placement” and “It makes us what we are”. These themes identified specific factors present that supported the creation and sustainment of the team’s ability to positively socialise students in compassionate mental health nursing practice. Key findings are discussed in relation to A New Grounded Theory of Student Nurse Socialisation in Compassionate Practice (Curtis, 2015) and The Senses Framework (Nolan et al, 2006; Brown, 2005). The impact of leadership on a practice teams’ ability to sustain the factors required to positively socialise students in compassionate mental health nursing practice is also discussed. Recommendations are made for practice, education, policy and research to support our student nurses of today to become compassionate mental health nurses of tomorrow.





Research Institute