Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 2002, 9, 5–14
Integration of theory and practice in learning mental health nursing T. MUNNUKKA 1 rn ph d(nursing science) ph d(education) , T. PUKURI 2 rn mnsc , P. LINNAINMAA 3 rn & N. KILKKU 4 rn mnsc 1
Lecturer, University of Tampere, Department of Nursing Science, Pitkäniemi, 2Director of Nursing, Department of Psychiatry, Tampere University Hospital, Pitkäniemi, 3Nursing teacher and postgraduate student, School of Health Care, Pirkanmaa Polytechnic, 4Project manager and postgraduate student, Department of Psychiatry, Tampere University Hospital, Pitkäniemi, Finland
Correspondence: Nina Kilkku Tampere University Hospital PO Box 2000 33380 Pitkäniemi Finland
MUNNUKKA T., PUKURI T., LINNAINMAA P. & KILKKU N. (2002) Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing 9, 5–14 Integration of theory and practice in learning mental health nursing This article describes an action research project that aimed at a better integration of theory and practice in the education of mental health nursing students. Two partners, an institute of nursing and health care and a university hospital, collaborated to develop a new educational programme for mental health nursing. The blocks of theoretical studies were implemented simultaneously with practical training, and the theory content was taught by nursing teachers as well as by nurse practitioners who worked on the teaching wards. In addition, the students had their own personal nurse-preceptors on the wards. The nurse managers were responsible for the educational level of the teaching wards and the director of nursing planned the teaching arrangements together with the nursing teachers. In all, the project involved over 50 different actors and several researchers. The results are encouraging: all the participants – students, preceptors, nurse managers and nursing teachers – found the project rewarding and they want to continue to develop and improve the level of teaching and learning in mental health nursing education. All the participants grew and developed professionally during the project. Keywords: action research, development, education, integration, mental health nursing, theory and practice Accepted for publication: 12 December 2000
The aim of nursing education is to train competent and capable nursing professionals for the needs of working life. In a changing society, nursing education, too, has changed. In Finland, the transition from nursing schools to the polytechnic level began in the 1990s. Nowadays the former nursing schools, as part of the polytechnic educational system, provide a new kind of education for nursing students who specialize in different clinical areas. © 2002 Blackwell Science Ltd
In Finland, the framework and the uniﬁed criteria for the curriculum of nursing education are decided on at a national level. Each institute of nursing and health care, as nursing schools are now called, then modiﬁes this framework to form a curriculum that suits its own purposes. Consequently, different educational models are being developed at the regional level. In the future this may lead to a situation in which the various institutes compete with each other in terms of their curricula and the availability of practical training. Such competition will undoubtedly 5
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have an effect on how competent future nurses will be in meeting the challenges of caring. Moreover, the competition will inﬂuence the nurses’ job opportunities and their appointment to key positions in working life. In Finnish nursing education, nursing teachers are responsible for the teaching of theory in institutes of nursing and health care. The students do their practical training in a hospital or in community care, where a staff nurse acts as the nurse-preceptor for the student. The teacher meets the students and their preceptors regularly during the training period. In this triangular collaborative...
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