Factors that influence the choice of career among psychiatric nursing students: case study of Butabika School of Psychiatric Nursing in Kampala, Uganda
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Background: Psychiatric disorders have become a global burden the world over. They account for 12.3% of the total global disease burden. Uganda's ministry of health has included mental health into the Uganda National Minimum Health Care Package (UNMHCP) so that mental health services are provided from the lowest level. However, the country still faces a serious shortage of service providers such as psychiatric nurses that constitute the largest group in this profession. Methodology: This was a descriptive cross-sectional quantitative study. The questionnaire developed by the researcher was used for the purpose of data collection. The study was carried out in Butabika School of Psychiatric nursing where a total of 120 registered student nurses consented to participate in the study. Convenient sampling method was employed because the accessible population was small. Data was collected, cleaned, coded and entered into a computer. Data analysis was done using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 11 and EPI-info version 2002. The data was summarized in the form of tables, bar graphs and pie charts. Results: In this study, gender was regarded as one of the factors that influenced the career choice of the Psychiatric nursing students as there were more male students than the females and the age bracket for these students was between 21-25 years of age. Regarding the status of psychiatric nursing, many students stated that they would have preferred to become medical doctors than being psychiatric nurses based on their earlier childhood career choices. However, the respondents stated that they had a positive attitude towards psychiatric nursing regardless of their community's attitude which was highly negative. The most influential factor noted in this study was the family influence on choice of a career as stated by the majority of the respondents. Although family gave less career guidance, it still emerged as a very strong factor. The other reason why the respondents enrolled in psychiatric nursing and recommended others to it was the availability of job opportunities in psychiatric nursing. Interestingly, in this study, majority of the participants decided to pursue a career in psychiatric nursing after encountering mentally ill people and they stated that they wanted to help the mentally ill people in their communities. The respondents also made suggestions on how their interest in psychiatric nursing could be increased further and one outstanding reason was career guidance and counseling. Conclusion: The findings in this study, propose that influential factors such as family are forces to reckon with when it comes to career choice in psychiatric nursing. Career choices especially in psychiatric nursing are also strongly linked to the gender and age of aspirants for psychiatric nursing. This is one of the areas where male nurse students dominate compared to other areas of nursing as it has been reflected in this study. Students' positive attitude towards the career can propel them to pursue careers that are less popular like the psychiatric profession despite the negative attitude of the wider community where they come from. Lastly, availability of jobs in psychiatric nursing is a factor that motivated the students to pursue psychiatric nursing in strongly believing that upon completion of their studies, they will be ready jobs for them to take up.
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