Summary The available literature suggests that undergraduate nursing students generally do not have positive attitudes towards working in the mental health field but that clinical experience is the most important factor influencing the development of a more favourable outlook. Despite this there is very little attention paid to the factors that contribute to a positive clinical experience. The aim of this paper is to examine the level of, and factors contributing to, undergraduate nursing students’ satisfaction with clinical experience. A survey was administered to undergraduate nursing students ( n = 146). The findings support the available literature in suggesting that the provision of support and the ability to become actively involved in patient care are the two most important factors affecting the perceived quality of clinical placements. However, this study contradicts the findings of earlier research in demonstrating a higher degree of satisfaction with clinical experience in inpatient settings. This reflected the view that there was less opportunity for patient care involvement within the community environment. Given the increased emphasis on community care, it is important that students are actively engaged in the care and treatment process in order that they have the opportunity to meet learning objectives in the mental health field.