Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Tish Smyer

Second Committee Member

Alona Angosta

Third Committee Member

Michele Clark

Fourth Committee Member

LeAnn Putney

Number of Pages



Using a van Manen phenomenological approach combined with a Colaizzi step-wise data analysis procedure, this study seeks to describe the lived experience of recent nursing school graduates during their psychiatric didactic and clinical education and how the experience influenced their view of psychiatric nursing as a specialty choice.

Inclusion criteria for participants were registered nurses (RN) who graduated from their entry level nursing program within the last three years; graduated from a United States RN program; and are currently working as an RN in an inpatient setting. Two groups of participants were selected; one group of nurses who chose psychiatric nursing as their first post-graduation employment after RN licensure and another group of nurses who did not choose psychiatric nursing as their first post-graduation employment.

An overall essence of "Quality of Exposure to Psychiatric Nursing" was identified. Four main themes and five subthemes were identified: (1) fear & anxiety, (1a) unpredictability, (1b) external fear factors of friends & family, (2) clinical exposure, (2a) limited clinical time, (2b) negative role models, (2c) ambiguity of psych nurse skills & role, (3) peer & non-psych faculty not valuing psych, and (4) psych instructor teaching methods. A mitigating factor also emerged associated with all five participants who went into psychiatric nursing having psychiatric exposure prior to their nursing program.

This study contributes to the overall science of nursing related to psychiatric nursing education. Studying this experience provides psychiatric instructors and schools of nursing the opportunity to develop learning experiences that foster future psychiatric nurses.


Clinical; Didactic; Nursing students; Phenomenological; Psychiatric nurses – Recruitment; Psychiatric nursing; Psychiatric nursing – Study and teaching; Specialty choice


Education | Nursing | Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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