The training of future health professionals is a complex and dynamic endeavour, whereby students engage in a variety of experiences and learning activities. Skills developed through classes are applied and further developed within authentic settings, such as clinical placements. While there is a wealth of literature that has examined the influence of clinical placements, less inquiry has examined whether the personal traits and/or characteristics of students play a role in their professional learning and development. Specifically, a key trait that has been viewed as influencing the education and growth of people, yet has received little focus in the nursing literature, is self-determination. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine whether students’ self-determination influences their level of professional learning, as measured by their stigmatizing attitudes, within a clinical placement. Participants were undergraduate nursing students classified as either high or low in their self-determination and engaged in a compulsory 80-hour mental health clinical placement. Data were collected using a battery of surveys to assess their self-determination towards their work and stigmatizing attitude towards people with mental illness. Using a two-group pre test and post test design, statistical analysis revealed a significant difference whereby students with high self-determination towards work possessed less stigmatizing attitudes after completing their clinical placement. Results from this study provide empirical evidence that personality elements such as self-determination and motivation towards work can play a role in the education of future professionals.