The introduction of forensic psychiatry to undergraduate nursing students as part of a Bachelor of Nursing degree
The Introduction of Forensic Psychiatry to undergraduate nursing students as part of the Bachelor of Nursing degree. The Bachelor of Nursing degree at the University of Wollongong leads to registration as a nurse in NSW Australia. Australia does not provide undergraduate Mental Health nursing degree courses. New graduates may seek employment in general or mental health settings. A percentage of these registered nurses will seek employment in the new and expanded forensic facilities in this State. Exposure to key aspects of forensic psychiatric work is seen as an important component of these undergraduate nurses education. The undergraduate curriculum includes lectures and tutorial presentations which include: common diagnostic categories, aetiologies, assessment instruments and case histories. Assignment work examines social and community attitudes towards mentally ill offenders and judicial processes i.e. unfit to plead. Workshops are conducted which examine issues relating to the potentially violent individual and various evidenced based therapeutic interventions. The study looks at the attitudes of undergraduate nursing students towards mentally ill offenders regardless of the setting: community, clinic, accident and emergency, hospital, prison etc. Attitudes towards the mentally ill offender, prior to the topic, reflected those held by the community generally, i.e. fear, intolerance, stereotyping, etc. Following the delivery of the topic, some students displayed significantly different attitudes, understanding, empathy, confidence etc. These results are presented for discussion. The implications for practice are important, regardless of the setting in which the registered nurse may practice. It is therefore asserted, by the author, that the undergraduate bachelor of nursing degree curriculum must include; an introductory component dedicated to the topic of forensic psychiatry. It is envisaged that this may stimulate further interest at the post graduate level of study.