BACKGROUND: New research findings, changes in legislation and the use of information technology in nursing, require continuous in-service training of psychiatric nurses to cope with, reflect on and modify their clinical practice based on emerging knowledge. Many international studies have been conducted on the importance of in-service training and authors agree that in-service training improves the quality of nursing care. However, few studies have been conducted on in-service training in South Africa and psychiatric nursing.
OBJECTIVES: The objectives of the study were to explore and describe the needs and benefits of in-service training for psychiatric nurses; and to formulate recommendations for in-service training.
METHOD: The research project followed a qualitative, explorative, descriptive and contextual approach. Six focus group interviews were conducted and the following questions were asked: 'What are your in-service training needs as psychiatric nurses?', 'What are the benefits of doing in service training?' and 'What can be done to ensure that in-service training is done continuously?' Data were analysed through the use of content analysis and Tesch's eight steps of data analysis were used.
RESULTS: The findings of this research included three main themes, namely, that on-going in-service training is necessary, in-service training is beneficial to psychiatric nurses and that challenges exist with regard to in-service training.
CONCLUSION: The findings confirmed the need for ongoing in-service training which has many advantages for psychiatric nurses. Aspects that hinder in-service training need to be addressed by planning ahead and by implementing the recommendations as identified by the psychiatric nurses and their managers.