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The University of Southampton
Health SciencesPostgraduate study

Dilhani Ruth Goonesekera PgDip Mental Health Nursing, 2020/2021

Dilhani Ruth Goonesekera's Photo

Dilhani is a PgDip Mental Health Nursing within Health Sciences at the University of Southampton.

It was clear that we would not only graduate with proficient training and excellent practical experience, but we would come away with various skills required to one day becoming leaders of the profession.

Why did you choose to come and study at Southampton?

"Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Southampton was placed 5th in the world when I first applied. Not only was the University appealing to me on an international level, what really drew me to the School of Nursing was their emphasis on teaching leadership and management right from the start of the course. It was clear that we would not only graduate with proficient training and excellent practical experience, but we would come away with various skills required to one day becoming leaders of the profession."

What is it like studying here?

Coming to University as a post-graduate student, I wanted a unique experience to my last undergraduate one and I wanted to share the experience with my peers. The PgDip Nursing programme at Southampton, provided a unique opportunity to meet other students in exactly the same position as me. We were all from different academic backgrounds working towards one common goal in becoming qualified nurses. The University not only offered us a place to bring our own individual and collective past experience into training but they provided us with lecturers from different fields and areas of nursing. It was inspiring hearing all their experiences in practice, even from some, still in practice themselves.

Also, forming a tight-knit student community was easy, especially with all the meeting places available across campus. There was plenty of space to meet up for a catch up, or to do project work or even just to grab a bite to eat between lectures.

What is the most inspiring or insightful thing you have learnt or discovered in your time at Southampton?

The most inspiring thing I have seen at Southampton has been learning the effect of comradery between the student nurses on my course. Being a very compact course, with 2 years of intense study, it has been amazing seeing the support and care given to each other during the highs and lows of the course. We were able to empathise, understand and encourage each other when needed. It was a beautiful thing to be a part of.

Please tell us about a moment when you learnt something at Southampton, which reinforced or changed your mind about your direction in life.

Hearing stories from our lecturers about their own personal experience in mental health nursing really helped re-affirm my desire to making the most out of nursing. What motivated me to continue in my studies was seeing first-hand the journey of patient recovery when on placement. Seeing a patient’s progression from admission to rehabilitation was a real eye-opener. I just loved that no matter how long that process took, having a realistic end goal and seeing the role of a nurse in caring for the patient through the highs and lows, was so encouraging and exciting.

How do you rate the study facilities at the University?

The facilities at the University, in particular the main library was a perfect spot for studying. It really helped knowing there was a place to meet up with peers to study together. If the library was too busy, it was easy enough to book a room around campus to use. Other facilities that I found inviting were the on-campus cinema and plethora of eating places dotted around. All were easy to access and a perfect meeting place for friends and peers.

Have you undertaken any work placements, collaborations with industry, internships, studying abroad or volunteering? How have these enhanced your experience?

I have worked part-time as a recovery worker at a private mental health hospital since starting my studies at the University of Southampton. This experience has really opened my eyes to the field I am heading into and has particularly grown my understanding of good communication and care, for patients suffering with mental health issues. 

What are you most proud of from your time at Southampton so far?

During my time at Southampton so far, I am most proud of my time spent on clinical placement. I have loved getting to know the patients and staff team. Every day, I feel like I improve in my understanding of the nursing role and love the fulfilling feeling of helping a patient out. I am also proud of the hard work I have put into juggling university, extra-curricular activities, part-time job and personal life. 

What do you think you have gained from your studies that you wouldn’t have developed without them?

Besides the confidence and experience I gained through hours of clinical practice, I gained better communication skills for working in intense and busy environments like hospitals. Here, I also found myself in more niche inpatient settings like forensic units where the rules are totally different and adaptive. I also gained the ability to manage time more effectively especially when having to juggle uni, part-time jobs and my own personal life, all at a more intense level than previously experienced. 

Have you undertaken any extracurricular activities? How have they enhanced your experience?

I have spent time during the course as a course- representative. This has allowed me to communicate with the university staff team and liaise with my peers on finding ways to maximise the course and its resources. I have also spent time getting plugged into a church community to grow my faith and be a part of a healthy support network. 

What will you do with your degree/research after you have finished your studies?

I would love to explore ways of climbing up the ladder in the nursing profession with sufficient experience and time in the field. I would love to explore various therapy-focused treatments for patients within a forensic mental health setting and explore psychology further within the field. I would also one day love to get to the level of a mental health nursing advanced practitioner in order to help diagnose patients, as well as treat and care for them. 

Who will you keep in touch with from Southampton once you graduate and why?

I would love to keep in touch with my friends and fellow student nurses to see how everyone gets on after University. 

What will you miss the most about being at Southampton once you have finished your studies?

I will miss my fellow student nurses and the community around Southampton that supported me through my studies. I will also miss hearing stories from our lecturers about their experience in practice. 

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