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Fiona Cleary BN (Hons) Bachelor of Nursing (Mental Health), 2016

Mental Health Nurse in a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit

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Hi, I'm Fiona Cleary and I studied Mental Health Nursing at the University of Southampton.

The varied placements enabled a good insight into the different teams and the importance of collaboration, multi-disciplinary working and communication to deliver holistic care to the highest quality.

What made you select the University of Southampton for your undergraduate study?

I selected the University of Southampton as my first choice of study as I had heard that it was very highly regarded for their nursing programmes. I had also heard good feedback from previous nursing students and wanted to attend a well-established University for my chosen career.

What is Southampton like as a place to study?

Highfield Campus is very well laid out, with the main buildings used for lectures all close and in short walking distance. The lecturers were super friendly and generally tried to make learning fun as well as informative. Lectures often incorporated role play and other interactive ways to keep everyone stimulated and engaged.

What did you enjoy about the course?

I enjoyed various aspects of the course, there wasn’t one area that I didn’t enjoy in some way or other. I loved placements as this is where you are able to consolidate your learning from lectures. Seminar and tutor group time was also helpful as you are given 1:1 time with a dedicated tutor to lend advice and support throughout your three years of learning.

How useful did you find your clinical placements?

Placements were an excellent way to consolidate learning from lectures into practice and to prepare you for what nursing is truly about. They were brilliant as the six placements were very varied which offered a good insight into the different teams and how they all collaboratively work with each other to support patients throughout their journey. This is imperative in order to understand the importance of holistic care and how communication is truly at the core of good care. Completing varied placements enable you to have a good idea what role and team you would like to work in once you are in a position to start applying for nursing jobs.

Did you participate in any extra-curricular activities (such as clubs, societies) that provided skills that you have used since finishing your course?

I chose not to participate in any extra-curricular activities since I commuted to University from the Isle of Wight but I was amazed at all of the different activities and clubs available.

What is your current profession?

I am now working as a Mental Health Nurse on a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit. This unit was my fifth placement and I applied for the job whilst I was a student on this ward.

How do you feel that your course prepared you for employment?

The course was brilliant and a good balance between theory and practical. The varied placements enabled a good insight into the different teams and the importance of collaboration, multi-disciplinary working and communication to deliver holistic care to the highest quality. I took the opportunity to seek out further practice experiences whilst on placement which gave me more understanding of different fields and roles within both mental health teams and physical health teams.

Do you have any plans for your future career progression?

I haven’t decided what I would like to do in regards to further down the line in my career as a Nurse. As soon as I am able to in accordance with the NMC code of conduct I plan to complete my mentorship at the University of Southampton since I enjoy helping others to learn and to help them become the best nurse possible. I plan to move around the different areas within the mental health field throughout my career better my nursing knowledge and experience.

What tips would you give to current students looking to start a career in your sector? What could they be doing now to make themselves more employable when they graduate?

A tip that would definitely be recommended to future students is to gain experience in the healthcare setting prior to starting a degree or alongside your degree. This will enhance your studies and give you greater confidence and understanding when in placements to therefore enable you to get the most from your placements and also to help within your academic studies. 

What advice would you give to a student starting their undergraduate study at Southampton?

Enjoy your time at the University of Southampton! Work hard but ensure that you allow yourself time to have a break. Engaging with fellow peers is an excellent way to share worries, concerns and achievements and you will likely make firm friendships in your time at the University. Make use of the tutors for support, they are more than happy and always on hand to help and advise students.

What are you most proud of?

I am really proud that I have become a qualified Mental Health Nurse and working in such an intensive care setting that I really enjoy! I also achieved first class honours at University of Southampton - something that I would never have thought was possible! I feel that my confidence and abilities as a nurse have grown even further since starting my current job and I am proud to be involved in delivering quality care and helping to make a difference to the lives of the individuals that I help care for.

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