Clinical Learning Environment in a Specialist Forensic Mental Health Setting: Perception of Irish Student Nurses


  • Shobha Rani
  • Michael John Brennan
  • David Timmons


The introduction of the BSc programme in Nursing in 2002 has dramatically changed how Irish nurses are educated. Mental health nursing students are now exposed to various specialist practices including child, adolescent and family mental health, substance misuse, intellectual disability, psychiatry for older people and more recently nursing in forensic and secure environments. Much research has been conducted on students’ experiences of the clinical environment. A considerable amount of research has also been conducted among preceptors exploring their experiences and their role and the assessment of the clinical setting itself. However no research has been carried out on student nurses perceptions of clinical learning within a specialist setting.

This study aimed to explore student nurses’ perceptions of the clinical learning environment in a specialist forensic setting.

A descriptive, quantitative design was used. All second, third and fourth year undergraduate student nurses on clinical placement in the specialist forensic setting were invited to participate in this study. A total of fifty six student nurses participated. The Clinical Learning Environment Scale (CLES) by Dunn and Burnett (1995) was used to collect the data. CLES is a 23-item instrument with five subscales: ‘Staff-student relationships’, ‘Preceptor’s commitment’, ‘Patient relationships’, ‘Student satisfaction’ and ‘Hierarchy and ritual’.

The findings from this study revealed positive staff student relationships, a high commitment by the preceptors and good relationship with patients. Further, there was evidence of high satisfaction among students.






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