Relationship skills building is the focus of an innovative clinical experience with older adults for junior level nursing students in a psychiatric mental health course. The clinical experience is designed to help students apply, integrate, and validate previously learned therapeutic communication skills and experience discovery of self and others. This article describes a clinical experience that introduces students to older adults, who will make up the majority of health care recipients in the students' future careers, and helps students explore the nurse's role in mental health care for older adults. Not only did students engaged in the clinical experience learn to develop a relationship with the older adults, but they learned much more - they learned to appreciate the value of life, the importance of listening, and the rich and varied life stories of older adults.
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