Valuing teamwork: Insights from newly-registered nurses working in specialist mental health services Michelle Cleary,1 Jan Horsfall,1 Judy Mannix,1 Maureen O’Hara-Aarons1 and Debra Jackson2 1
Family and Community Health Research Group, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Western Sydney, and 2Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Health, University of Technology, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
ABSTRACT: In this qualitative study, the experiences of a small cohort of registered nurses (RN) during the ﬁrst 2 years of mental health employment were documented. A total of 13 semistructured interviews were completed from within a specialist mental health setting. Eleven issues were identiﬁed: (i) teamwork; (ii) experiential learning; (iii) self-development; (iv) conﬁdence; (v) listening; (vi) rapport; (vii) keen observation; (viii) patience; (ix) empathy; (x) learning from colleagues; and (xi) maintaining a positive approach towards patients. The nurses focused on the here-and-now circumstances, rather than on future plans, or past preparation, and were able to elucidate the qualities and skills that they brought to their clinical work. Participants were most proud of achievements that bridged the personal and professional, such as self-development, working closely with patients to develop rapport, experiential learning, and teamwork. Findings highlight the importance of teamwork to newly-graduated RN entering the mental health environment. It is known that teamwork can convey a sense of belonging and help create an environment in which applied experiential clinical learning can occur. Therefore, it is important that efforts are made to facilitate team building and opportunities for teamwork when new graduates are transitioning into the mental health clinical practice environment. KEY WORDS: experiential learning, interpersonal, mental health nursing, teamwork, transition programme.
The transition from student to registered nurse (RN) is a crucial period in the career trajectory of nurses. Student nurses’ expectations of the impending transition to RN, while encased within feelings of apprehension, are generally positive (Kelly & Ahern 2008), particularly in relation to working relationships with colleagues (Heslop et al.
Correspondence: Michelle Cleary, Family and Community Health Research Group, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South DC, NSW 1797, Australia. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Michelle Cleary, RN, PhD. Jan Horsfall, PhD. Judy Mannix, RN, BEd (Nsg), MN (Hons). Maureen O’Hara-Aarons, RN, MN. Debra Jackson, RN, PhD. Accepted April 2011.
2001). Adequate support and assistance for new graduate nurses during the transition period optimize their experiences (Cleary et al. 2009a,b; Mannix et al. 2009), and the effectiveness of the transition has been linked to workforce sustainability (Cleary & Happell 2005). There is an emerging body of research into the experiences and perceptions of new graduates during their ﬁrst year of mental health nursing (Cleary & Happell 2005; Cleary et al. 2009a,b; Hayman-White et al. 2007; Patterson et al. 2008; Prebble & McDonald 1997). The literature reveals that programmes to aid the transition to the psychiatric/mental health environment are considered signiﬁcant in mental health nursing, but there is a paucity of published research to determine their effectiveness (Cleary et al. 2009a,b). The present project documents some experiences of a small cohort of RN during the ﬁrst 2 years of mental health
© 2011 The Authors International Journal of Mental Health Nursing © 2011 Australian College of Mental Health Nurses Inc.
INSIGHTS FROM NEWLY-REGISTERED NURSES
employment, and explores their views about their challenges and achievements....