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Student nurses’ preparation for psychiatric nursing practice: Malawian experiences

Thokozani Bvumbwe (Faculty of Health Sciences, Mzuzu University, Luwinga, Malawi.)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 7 November 2016




The purpose of this paper is to explore newly graduated nurses’ experiences of their preparation for psychiatric nursing practice in Malawi. Knowledge of how basic or undergraduate nursing training programs prepare nurses for mental health services will inform educators to maximize the teaching and learning processes. Students are a key stakeholder in professional training hence an understanding of their experiences of training programs is critical.


A qualitative exploratory study was undertaken. In total, 16 newly graduated nurses with six months work experience at three psychiatric hospitals in Malawi were purposively sampled and recruited into the study. One to one interviews which lasted almost 45 minutes were conducted. Data were analyzed using content analysis.


Findings show that training programs fall short in preparing students for psychiatric nursing practice. Participants reported little attention to the specialty as compared to other specialties by educators. Inadequate academic support during practice sessions was highlighted by the majority of participants.

Research limitations/implications

The study needed to compare the findings with experiences of students who have been allocated to other nursing specialties.


Psychiatric nursing specialty remains the least preferred career choice for many nursing students. However, preservice nursing education programs are expected to socialize, motivate and prepare students for psychiatric practice as well. It is therefore critical to understand gaps that exist in student preparation for psychiatric nursing services in order to improve mental health training.



Conflict of interest: there is no conflict of interest in this study. Many thanks go to fellow lecturers for their support during the study and all participants for taking part in the study.


Bvumbwe, T. (2016), "Student nurses’ preparation for psychiatric nursing practice: Malawian experiences", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 11 No. 5, pp. 294-304.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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