Western Nursing takes innovative approach to mental health training

With demand for mental health-related services at an all-time high, Western University’s Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing is taking an innovate approach to ensuring its student practitioners are prepared to provide patients with the help they need.

As part of its Compressed Time Frame Program (CTF), a 19-month course of study which prepares students for careers as Registered Nurses (RN) through coursework and hands-on training, Western is the first university in Ontario to employ an on-campus practical placement in mental health. Previously, students gained experience with mental health issues in community-based placements, which posed a challenge for a compressed six-week placement.

“We want to be 100 per cent certain that our students are getting the experiences they need in this area,” says assistant professor and course coordinator Abe Oudshoorn, who is also the founder of the London Homelessness Outreach Network. “In these short placements, there are particular skills and experiences we need our students to develop and we have found an innovative way to ensure that this happens.”

With classes set in a simulated hospital ward and examination rooms, the six-week placement (May 18-June 22) utilizes four standardized patients (actors) and four instructors to assist 56 students in achieving their learning objectives. The standardized patients have received specialized training to simulate mental health issues and will portray individuals across a variety of ages.


WHAT: Members of the media are invited to view a placement session and speak with students, instructors and standardized patients

WHERE: Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry Clinical Skills Building

WHEN: Friday, June 15 at 12:30 p.m.