Reshaping students' attitudes toward individuals with mental illness through a clinical nursing clerkship. Academic Article uri icon


  • The purpose of this study was to evaluate the degree to which a psychiatric clinical clerkship alters nursing students' attitudes toward individuals with mental illness. The goal of the 4-week clerkship is to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and professional attitudes that will enable them to care for individuals with mental illness in different health care settings. A pencil-and-paper questionnaire was administered to 126 third-year students before and after the clerkship. Students were presented with four hypothetical patients with schizophrenia and were asked to what extent the patient was responsible for his condition, the emotions students felt, and whether students were willing to care for the patient or to segregate him in the hospital. After the clinical clerkship, students became more compassionate and less frightened by psychiatric patients, were more willing to care for individuals with mental illness, and expressed less need to segregate them from the community. In addition, in accord with professional attitudes, students became aware of their own attitudes (the responsibility attributed to patients) and their emotional responses, but these were no longer associated with reluctance to provide care.

publication date

  • January 1, 2008