Examination of a therapeutic-recreation based clinical placement for undergraduate nursing students: A self-determined perspective

Nurse Educ Pract. 2018 Mar;29:15-20. doi: 10.1016/j.nepr.2017.11.006. Epub 2017 Nov 10.


Nursing students across the globe are expected to undertake clinical placements. To date, there have been no studies that have examined the potential educational benefits for undergraduate nursing students engaged in a mental health clinical placement grounded in self-determination theory. The present study examined the experiences of undergraduate students engaged in a mental health clinical placement termed Recovery Camp. An ethnographic methodology within a case study approach was used. The researchers were immersed in the clinical placement, which took place at a YMCA camp facility. Participants were 20 3rd year undergraduate nursing students. To gain insight and understanding, the researchers used interviews, observations, and reflective journals. The constant-comparative method was used to analyse the data. Emergent themes identified from systematic analysis were: (a) social connection and (b) experiential learning. Recovery Camp facilitated a sense of inclusion and positive/supportive behaviour. It also enhanced student learning and understanding of symptoms of mental illness. Findings from this study support and extend findings for the use of therapeutic-recreation based work placement experiences in the clinical education of future nurses. Findings demonstrated a link between this type of placement and undergraduate student's development of deeper knowledge of symptoms and experiences associated with mental illness.

Keywords: Clinical placement; Mental health; Nursing; Self-determination.

MeSH terms

  • Anthropology, Cultural
  • Clinical Clerkship*
  • Education, Nursing, Baccalaureate
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Mental Disorders / nursing
  • Problem-Based Learning*
  • Psychiatric Nursing
  • Psychological Theory
  • Qualitative Research
  • Recreation*
  • Students, Nursing / psychology*