Warelow, Philip, Edward, Karen-Leigh, Hercelinskyj, Gylo, Welch, T., Hemingway, Steve, McAndrew, Sue and Stephenson, John (2012) The fabric of a career in mental health nursing from an Australian and UK perspective. In: ACMHN's 38th Annual International Mental Health Nursing Conference, 3rd-5th October 2012, Darwin, Australia.

As the prevalence of mental illness increases globally, Australia and the United Kingdom (UK) share concerns regarding the recruitment and retention of nurses to the field of mental health care. The level of preparedness of nurses is thought to have a bearing on recruitment and retention in mental health nursing practice. This study sought to uncover what Australian and UK undergraduate students perceived as motivational in choosing a career in, and being prepared for, working in mental health settings.
This study employed mixed methods, using a questionnaire comprising of both quantitative and qualitative questions. Quantitative data was analysed using SPSS (V.16.0) and content analysis was undertaken for analysing the qualitative data.
Following ethical approval, data was collected from, four universities in Australia and two in the UK. A total of 447 undergraduate nursing and midwifery students, who had completed a mental health placement, completed the questionnaire. Findings revealed that motivational factors influencing their interest in mental health nursing were clinical experience (49.7%), personal/life experiences (42.9%) and the role of the lecturer (23%). However, 47.7% of all participants had some previous experience of mental illness, with only 18.4% having had work experience in the field prior to starting their course.
IMPLICATIONS This study adds to extant knowledge of what encourages people to choose a career trajectory in mental health nursing and what could be harnessed with regard to retention. The knowledge gained from these findings is useful in informing recruitment processes and can also inform curriculum.

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