A Broken Promise? Exploring the Lack of Evidence for the Benefits of Comprehensive Nursing Education

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Over the past approximately 25 years, Australia has undergone significant changes in the educational preparation of nurses. Australia has moved away from specialization in areas, such as mental health nursing at undergraduate level, in favour of a comprehensive model, an approach that remains controversial. The aim of this paper is to identify and critique the three main arguments advanced in support of comprehensive nursing education, which we argue are not supported by existing evidence. The purported wide skill and knowledge base does not appear to have brought about identifiable improvements in consumer outcomes. The evidence regarding stigma suggests comprehensive nursing education has not impacted favourably on nurses' attitudes towards working with people with mental health problems. There is no evidence to support the notion that graduates will be able to better deal with and meet the physiological needs of those people diagnosed with mental illness. From the arguments articulated in this paper, we conclude that comprehensive nursing education has not met its promises or expectations, and as a result, specialist entry-level preparation for nurses ought to be reintroduced as a matter of urgency in Australia.


To acquire a personal use copy of this work, contact John Cutcliffe at john.cutcliffe@wright.edu.



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