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Looking back on my first year of studying Mental Health Nursing


Faculty: Health, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Nursing and Midwifery
Course: BSc (Hons) Mental Health Nursing
Category: Nursing and midwifery

29 July 2021

Mental Health Nursing student Ella reflects on the first year of her course.

This year has been challenging for me but also extremely exciting. I have met some amazing nurses, tutors, friends, colleagues and patients who have uplifted me and guided me through this tough year.

I wanted to write this blog post to inform any future Mental Health Nursing students of what they can expect!

Preparing for placement

The placements are definitely the best part of this programme.

My advice would be to make sure, once you are allocated a placement, to research what you may expect to see at this service, staff you may potentially be able to work with, and also common medications you may come across. This will give you a good baseline knowledge so you don’t feel completely unprepared.

On the other hand, no placement is expecting you to turn up and be an expert! You are there to LEARN, and at any point if you feel like you are not getting the most out of your learning experience, please speak up.

My previous care work experience really helped me on my first placement with my confidence and communication skills. Although previous experience isn’t a requirement for this course, it was definitely beneficial.

It is extremely important to be open and honest with your practice assessors and supervisors about what you can and cannot do. You should never do something on placement that you are not 100% comfortable with doing, it is important to recognise your limits!

Putting new skills into practice

One thing I love about this course is that you can finally put your knowledge to the test on placement. It’s amazing seeing something in reality that you’ve only previously studied in the classroom, it really helps you to understand what’s happening.

This course is definitely for me as I am a visual and practical learner. As much as placements can be nerve-wracking, being thrown straight into it only a few months into the course is the only way we can truly learn how to be a nurse.

Staying the course

Before I started this course, I doubted myself as to whether I’d be able to make it as a nurse and if I had it in me. Deciding to become a nurse is not an easy decision, and the course itself definitely isn’t easy either.

There will come times when you feel the pressure of the workload and you’ll want to quit, but seeing the positive difference you make to patients' lives will outweigh the bad parts. There’s no better feeling than when you’re coming to the end of your placement and a patient thanks you and tells you they’ll miss you!

Ella studies Mental Health Nursing at ARU. You can find out more about this and other degree courses at one of our Open Days.


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.