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Violence against student nurses rampant

New research has indicated that a significant percentage of WA’s nursing students have been exposed to aggression and violence while on clinical placement.

The study, carried out by Murdoch University PhD student Martin Hopkins, surveyed 150 second and third year bachelor of nursing students with most having completed placements in aged care. Other placement settings included mental health and or acute care in the state’s metropolitan hospitals.

Hopkins found that one third of second year students and a quarter of third year students surveyed reported having experienced some form of aggression and or violence.

According to Hopkins, students had been punched, slapped, grabbed, bitten and pushed, and in some cases sustained injuries from the incident resulting in time off work. One respondent reported that a patient had attempted to stab them.

“Along with that, we actually asked the students how at-risk they felt of physical aggression and violence in the clinical area,” Hopkins said.

“That was quite concerning as well, because over 45 percent of the second-year nursing students felt at risk of physical aggression and violence, and nearly the same amount of the third-years also felt at risk of physical aggression and violence.

“Nearly 60 percent of all students experienced non-physical aggression and violence in a clinical environment. That was shouting and swearing, that kind of abuse... which obviously is very concerning to all of us.”

As well as posing a significant risk to students’ physical psychological wellbeing high levels of aggression and violence posing were also likely to severely impact on retention of nursing students.

“There is a real need for aggression and violence education to be integrated into the nursing curriculum so that students are adequately prepared for clinical settings,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins’ research was published in the journal Contemporary Nurse.

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