I chose NTU for many reasons. The interview for the course was amazing and I could tell how passionate the university and the staff were about the subject.
More about Hannah
What inspired you to study your subject?
"Nursing in general was something I had always been interested in, and due to personal experience, I decided to specialise in mental health. I have suffered myself and seen my friends and family suffering from a variety of mental health challenges. Seeing how much this affected them made me want to do everything I could to help, and I really enjoyed and cherished being able to support them through difficult times. These were such rewarding and strengthening experiences, so much so that I decided I wanted to pursue it as a career.
I began researching mental health conditions, how they were treated, and the role the nurse played in supporting people. The job sounded so perfect for me so I decided to go back to college so that I could start learning more and then could apply for the degree. This research also led to me some horrifying figures about the amount of mental health nursing positions that were unfilled, and it inspired me to take that first step towards making a difference."
Why did you choose your course at NTU?
"I chose NTU for many reasons. The interview for the course was amazing and I could tell how passionate the university and the staff were about the subject.
When I received my offer, I was so shocked and happy to see the conditions. As a mature student, NTU wanted to give me the best opportunity to access higher education which just filled me with so much hope and encouragement that I had to put them down as my choice! I had always heard great things about the university and how committed they were to their student’s well-being, which for me made it the obvious choice to study for a mental health degree."
What’s your experience been like of your course so far?
"There have been so many highlights for me so far. The lecturers are incredible and so passionate about nursing, we’ve had so many interesting conversations and debates during lectures and seminars, and it has been so interesting to hear so many points of view from such a diverse range of people. Being able to ask questions and probe deeper into topics, not just sticking to the points on the screen but asking those important questions and digging deeper into the taboo and difficult topics."
Have you been involved in any projects or extra-curricular activities that have supplemented your studies run through NTU?
"During my first year, I was involved in the nursing society which was brilliant. We did a wide range of activities ranging from casual teams meeting and social events in the town centre, to listening to inspiring guest speakers talking about their nursing career.
I took part in activities for world mental health day and had a short piece I’d written about why I wanted to be a mental health nurse posted on the NTU nursing twitter page.
I have also been able to attend the Royal College of Nursing Congress in Brighton, which was such an incredible and exciting event, hearing from inspirational nurses and debating really important topics in the wider world of nursing.
There have been so many opportunities presented to us as student nurses to supplement our studies, and the staff are so supportive in facilitating extra-curricular activities. There’s something for everyone at NTU even if it isn’t specific to your course there are so many societies and other activities going on that you are always welcomed to and encouraged to make the most of."
What does Social Sciences mean to you?
"Social sciences to me means working with people through all stages of life and health. We work alongside people from birth through to death, in the depths of illness, in the celebrations of recovery, and everything in-between. Society is becoming more and complicated and people are presenting with more diverse and complex needs, and we need to look at the whole person in order to help them.
One of the most important things I have learnt through studying this degree is that we need to take a holistic approach to care, as someone’s background, lifestyle, culture, beliefs, and values can have a massive impact on health and wellbeing and can drastically change the ways in which we approach their care. Our understanding of how the mind and body work is constantly changing and evolving, so being able to understand and keep up with the evidence base is so valuable. Having the skills to research topics and evaluate the evidence is also so important and is a part of this course I have really valued."
Have you completed any work placements on your course?
"Placement is such a valuable experience on this course. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) requires you to do 2300 hours of placement, so it takes up a large portion of the course.
I have worked in acute settings with people experiencing things like dementia, eating disorders, and severe anxiety. I have also worked in rehab settings and seen people in the recovery stage of their illnesses getting ready to go back into the community. Being able to support such a wide range of people and hear about their experiences has been incredible and so rewarding. I have worked alongside some amazing nurses, healthcare assistants, doctors, physios, occupational therapists and so many other members of the teams, learning so much from everyone’s unique skill set and knowledge base. The nurses really push you to learn as much as possible and be as hands-on as you can, so you gain confidence really quickly and really feel a part of the team.
I have gained so many new skills that will help me in my career, things I never thought I’d be brave enough to do like injections! Most of all I have learned how to communicate with almost anyone. It can be really hard to communicate with someone suffering with mental illness as they may have altered cognition or be really distressed. Once you get to know them it becomes easier, and you figure out other ways to get your message across, which feels amazing and so satisfying knowing you have made that really crucial connection with someone despite the challenges."
Do you have any memorable moments from your placement?
"One of my most memorable moments from placement was working at the emergency management unit. I had a patient who was in hospital from a physical health complication but also had a diagnosis of anxiety and depression. The ward was really busy and quite hectic, and my patient was really struggling with anxiety in that environment.
I did everything I could to help settle the patient from chasing up doctors and nurses for information, to simply just sitting and chatting. At the end of the day before I was about to leave, the patient called me over to thank me for taking so much time for them and reassuring them. They told me I’d had a really positive impact on their hospital stay and said I would make a really great nurse.
I remember feeling really out of my depth on that ward, so moments like these are so special and really reinforced my passion and love for mental health nursing and filled me back up with confidence! Learning how to be a nurse is so exciting, but making that small positive impact on someone’s day makes it all the more rewarding."
What do you think of the support available from tutors and staff at NTU?
"The support at uni has been incredible. There’s no such thing as a silly question, and the tutors are so approachable and really want you to do well. I’ve had moments where I was feeling really deflated but a quick chat with one of my tutors really made the difference. There are so many different ways to access support at NTU, whether you need help with academic writing, specific help with the content of your course, or general well-being support, there’s always someone on hand to help."
Outside of the Lecture Theatre
Did you find it easy to make friends and settle at NTU?
"I was initially quite worried about settling into uni and making friends, especially as a mature student. There are loads of events at the start of the year to help you get settled and meet people, which was really helpful for me, especially doing a campus tour to really get a feel for the campus and the community. I’ve made loads of friends on my course just by putting myself out there and chatting with everyone, we’re all here for the same reason which makes those initial conversations flow so easily.
I also love sitting in the communal areas at university, especially in the health and allied professions building. Just sitting and chilling or doing work in these areas has helped me to meet people in different fields across nursing and the health professions and I have built up a great network of connections this way! There are so many ways to make friends at NTU, whatever your interests are there’s a society or event for you where you can meet like-minded people and have fun."
The Next Steps
What's next for you after NTU?
"I’m so excited to finish my degree and officially be a registered nurse! I can’t wait to start applying for jobs and see what options are available for me after graduation. I would love to work in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) so fingers crossed that after NTU I can secure my dream job! I have really enjoyed this degree so far, so I’m thinking I might even come back for a Masters at some point!"
How is NTU helping you to achieve your career goals?
"There is lots of employability support at NTU, so I know that if I needed it there are people on hand to help support me kickstart my career. We’ve also had career days and events give us help and support in deciding on a career and what the different job roles require and look for in a potential candidate. Personal tutors are also great at helping you explore different career paths alongside getting that experience from the placements."
What top tips would you give anyone thinking about studying your course at NTU?
"My top tips would be to do your research! Mental health nursing is such a complicated and varied role, so knowing what the role involves and how this is reflected in the course is important.
Take part in open days to get a feel for the community here at NTU and see if it’s a good fit for you, I can guarantee you will love it here!
And finally, just follow your dreams and don’t let anything hold you back. Applying for this course could be the first step towards a lifelong career full of learning opportunities and challenges, but also one of the most rewarding things you can do! Just go for it!"