One country, two education models: exploring the pedagogical approaches to training undergraduate nurses for mental health care in Canada

Pedagogical approaches to training for mental health care




psychiatric nursing, education, history, critical, regulation


The training and registration of psychiatric/mental health nurses has a contested past in Canada. One of the consequences of the professional jostling between psychiatry and nursing for control over this area is the unusual circumstances of Canada having two education systems for this specialty. To understand why the schism has taken place and the impact it has had on psychiatric/mental health nursing, the authors have undertaken a critical review of the ontological and epistemological assumptions of these two pedagogical approaches. This review reveals that while the approaches share much in common, groups from both the east and the west receive different levels of mental health-related curriculum within their training. While it could be argued that psychiatric/mental health nursing practice is different enough to warrant its own framework for the preparation of specialist practitioners, there is no clear answer as to whether one of the current models should be implemented over the other. In this context, this paper argues that it is important that psychiatric nurses advocate for a future for the speciality in Canada.


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Author Biographies

John Jackson, University of Manitoba

John Jackson is a registered psychiatric nurse (bachelor of science in psychiatric nursing), and holds a master of psychiatric nursing degree with a specialty in health leadership and administration. John is a PhD in Nursing student at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. 

Luke Molloy, School of Nursing at the University of Wollongong

Dr. Luke Molloy is a registered nurse who works in mental health care settings in New South Wales, Australia. He is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing at the University of Wollongong. Dr. Molloy received his PhD from the University of Tasmania, Australia.

Dr. Molly’s research and writing interests explore the social order of health systems, nursing across cultures, and specialist mental health nursing care. His previous projects include research on mental health nursing practice and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and trauma-informed care in acute inpatient settings.

His teaching experience has included mental health nursing at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Dr. Molly has also taught content related to health psychology, evidence-based practice, cross-cultural care and communication. This includes experience teaching in nursing and paramedicine programmes.

Dr. Molloy’s clinical experience has been primarily in inpatient care in both Ireland and Australia.

Bachelor of Nursing, Trinity College Dublin, 2003

Master of Nursing, University of Sydney (Australia), 2007

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Tasmania, 2018

RN (NSW Health, Australia)


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How to Cite

Jackson, J., & Molloy, L. (2022). One country, two education models: exploring the pedagogical approaches to training undergraduate nurses for mental health care in Canada: Pedagogical approaches to training for mental health care. Witness: The Canadian Journal of Critical Nursing Discourse, 4(1), 7–15.