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    Chasing Paddy: And finding Hope in a hostile place. An Autoethnographic exploration of my practice and experiences as a lecturer in Mental Health Nursing.

    Prendergast, Margaret (2023) Chasing Paddy: And finding Hope in a hostile place. An Autoethnographic exploration of my practice and experiences as a lecturer in Mental Health Nursing. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    Chasing Paddy and finding Hope in a hostile place is a story about the role of a mental health nursing lecturer in Ireland. It is an autoethnographic exploration of current practice and the daily dramas and dilemmas of working within the hostilities of higher education in Ireland. This research surfaces the challenges and difficulties encountered by many mental health educators as their practice has changed enormously over the past number of years and continues to be shaped by changes in nursing and education policy. Such policy changes have negatively impacted the occupational and professional positioning of the role locally and internationally. In Ireland there is an absence of research in this area and this thesis is an attempt to shine a light on the way in which educator practice is being shaped by the impact of neoliberalism within the mental health and higher education sectors. This work is structured over the five years it took me to complete this doctoral programme and starts at year 1, at the beginning of term and follows this course throughout. The start of the academic year anchors this research and presents an opportunity to unpack some of the complexities of mental health nurse educator practice. Adopting an autoethnographic approach, in which the researcher becomes the researched, this work presents a series of stories about people who have impacted my educator practice and help to shine a spotlight on issues of professional identity, the nature of mental health work, occupational positioning and the multiple influences on current pedagogical practice. The role of a mental health educator involves the educational preparation of students to become registered mental health nurses and so this research transcends mental health, nursing, and education. Navigating these areas involves is a complex and messy task and the addition of carefully crafted characters aid this process enormously. These characters are composites, drawn from a sociological imagination and are situated at various points which transcends almost forty years of nursing practice. The central character is Paddy who helps craft an intertwined, layered story of self and others which provides the main backdrop for this story. Underpinned a social constructionist lens this work explores the lives of the characters in the research and interprets lived lives emotively and critically. Autoethnography is the research approach which guides the researcher through sensitive, soulful, and searching questions allowing for author vulnerability, self-expression, critical reflexivity, and scholarly creativity. Such creativity allows this work to be presented in a nontraditional way. The importance of author positioning which is central to autoethnography is represented in the non-conventional, performative, and sometimes fragmented means of writing seen throughout this research. This fragmentation is often evident in the back-and-forth nature of the work, moving from present to past, to present, to future, to present and never settling. The use of various tenses helps to draw the reader into experiences but not confine them to a particular era, signifying the ongoing, messy, evolving, and infinite nature of this work. This facilitates expressions of uncertainty, questioning and ambiguity which is incorporated in many diverse and interpretative ways of knowing. The performative nature of the study invites the reader to follow a story with many different elements each attending to different sensibilities. An important feature in this study is the representation of voice, that of the author and that of others which sometimes appears in differing guises in this work. The use of capital letters, commas, inverted commas, singular inverted commas instead of the traditional double, short punchy dialogue, pauses, white spaces, incomplete sentences, neologisms added to the purposeful disruption to narrative flow and aesthetic nicety. Carving out a place for the characters to represent their own textual narrative necessitated a departure from the artificiality of conventional academic writing with the use of imperfect dialogue, unsavory language, and words which are common parlance within mental health. Reader sensitivity underpins this research throughout as the reader can interpret their own meaning from the stories therein. This study is an important one because it draws attention to mental health nurse education in Ireland. Much of the referenced work about this area of concern emanates from the UK and Australia and the study attempts to locate the problem and its particular situation within an Irish context. It is insider research, which is a departure from traditional forms of enquiry in mental health nursing and one where the author is fully present and accountable standing behind each word written. It has helped me to understand my practice, its limitations, and possibilities both from an educator and activist perspective.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Chasing Paddy; finding Hope; hostile place; Autoethnographic exploration; practice and experiences; lecturer; Mental Health; Nursing.
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Adult and Community Education
    Item ID: 17993
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2024 11:50
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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