Conceptualizing the clinical and professional development of child and adolescent mental health nurses

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Abstract

Aspects of mental health nursing and its subspecialties are not easily defined. Child and adolescent mental health (CAMH) nursing is a subspecialty of mental health nursing, and some of its characteristics are tacit. This paper presents a deeper understanding of the meaning that CAMH nurses make of their role and work in the inpatient setting. The research was undertaken through a PhD candidature. The epistemological framework for the research was social constructionism. Interpretive enquiry was the methodology, as it allowed for the interpretation of multiple realities, which resulted in a rich description of the role and work of CAMH nurses. Methods of data collection were document analysis, focus group interviews, and individual interviews. Participants included nurses and multidisciplinary staff. Iterative and aggregative analyses were utilized for the documents. The focus group and individual interview data were analysed utilizing a thematic analysis process. This paper presents the findings of the combined analysis and the resultant holistic conceptual framework for the work of the CAMH nurse in the inpatient unit. The findings have contributed new knowledge to mental health nursing, specifically CAMH nursing, making the parameters of practice more explicit. Implications for practice, education, and research are identified.

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