Clinical Nurse Educators' experiences working with Students with Mental Health Disabilities
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Russell, Robert Ryan
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Little research has focused on clinical nurse educators’ experiences working with students with mental health disabilities. Yet, clinical nurse educators play an important role in helping students with disabilities succeed in nursing school. This exploratory qualitative study used a phenomenological approach to explore seven nurse educator’s experiences working in clinical practice with students who self-disclosed a mental health disability. A mental health disability was defined as any condition of the mind that makes it more difficult for the person to perform activities and interact with the world around them. Using conflict as a lens, intrapersonal, interpersonal, and intergroup conflicts were used to identify potential organizational development initiatives. Purposeful sampling was used to select participants from one small Canadian college. Unstructured, open-ended interviews generated data that was analyzed using Braun and Clarke’s model of thematic analysis. Eighteen themes were discovered in the data which were synthesized into seven cluster themes. The findings included: creating safe learning environments fostered positive educator-student connections; vulnerability was experienced by students, patients, and educators; nurse educators felt invisible to parts of the educational institution; measuring student learning in clinical practice was challenging and complex; the nurse could not be separated from the educator; competing educator responsibilities created conflict; and teaching support for nurse educators was found in many places. The findings informed thirteen recommendations for practice using Amy Kates and Jay Galbraith’s STAR model as a framework. These recommendations related to strategy, structure, rewards, processes, and people practices focused on mitigating, transforming, and resolving conflicts that are experienced by nurse educators when they work with students with mental health disabilities in clinical practice.