PrisNurS: Student nurse’s lived experience of a clinical placement in a prison setting

Exploring the experiences of student nurses who are assigned clinical placements in prison settings in order to support student nurses in preperation for placement and throughout the experience.


Research background

Our prison population is ageing, which has increased the need for both health care provision and correctional healthcare professionals. A strategy to address this latter issue is the development of clinical placements for nursing students, to support prospective recruitment. These initiatives have included Adult, Mental Health and Learning Disability nursing students. However, there has been very little research, which explores both the development and support of prison clinical placements and the positive and possibly negative impact on students.

The only relevant study currently identified was conducted in Australia, which identified the majority of students valued the opportunity to increase their knowledge and clinical skills and felt supported by their mentors in clinical practice, however, challenges were identified, which included being psychologically ill-prepared for the physical and emotional aspects of placement and witnessing poor attitudes and behaviours of other healthcare professionals (van de Mortel et al. 2017).

Research aims

The aim of this study is to explore student experiences of clinical placements in the prison healthcare settings. The objectives of this study included the development of an understanding of: 

  • Education and preparation student nurses receive prior to a placement in a prison setting
  • Students' lived experience of a clinical placement in a prison setting
  • The support student nurses receive whilst in a clinical placement in a prison setting.

Research methods

Interviews with student nurses who had completed a clinical placement in prison were completed, to explore their experiences, prior to, during and post this unique placement. The interviews were conducted Professor Joanne Brooke, with students from both Birmingham City University and the University of Greenwich. The interviews explored how the students were prepared for this placement, and the support they received during the placement from both the prison and their universities, as well as the learning activities and opportunities during this unique placement. 

Projected outcomes

The analysis of this data continues. However, the intended outcomes are to support the preparation of nursing students prior to a prison placement, and the possibility of the development of simulation for nursing students who did not have the opportunity to complete a prison placement.

To find out more about healthcare in prison environments, please see Dementia in Prison: An Ethical Framework to Support Research, Practice and Prisoners, by Professor Joanne Brooke.