Studying Mental Health Nursing: expectations vs reality


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

22 February 2021

Mental Health Nursing student Ella was unsure what to expect from her course. Here's how she's finding it so far.

I entered my Mental Health Nursing degree with little to no experience in the field, and I had no idea what to expect.

A new normal

On top of that, a pandemic hit and COVID-19 meant my first year of university would be a very different experience to those who went before me.

Coming into this degree during a global pandemic created even more anticipation around what to expect, and how the virus will affect my learning.

I have been impressed by the way the University has handled online learning through these unprecedented times but I will admit it was easy to start feel anxious about it.

Mostly I worried about how I would be supported and gain the correct nursing knowledge I needed to prepare myself for my first placement.

A gentle learning curve

Before starting this degree, I was worried about my lack of bioscience knowledge. The last time I had studied the human body was during my GCSEs, so I was expecting to struggle massively with this.

To my surprise, I have found the bioscience content very doable. I didn’t feel like I was being thrown into the deep end, the lectures really touched on the basics of bioscience before adding detail. I think this has set me up really well.

Because of this, I have also enjoyed the bioscience content a lot more than expected, especially the pathology side.

Nursing student Ella in her uniform

This also applies to the essay assignments. I have found the essays easier than I thought I would. When I am writing about a topic I have an interest in, the essays are more fun than stressful – I never thought I would say that!

Due to my lack of work experience in the healthcare sector, I also expected to feel miles behind my classmates during clinical lessons.

I have realised that this is not the case as every lesson we are all learning something new and we are all working at the same level.

An extra opportunity for experience

I have realised that many student nurses work for the NHS bank alongside their studies. I didn’t consider this before, but now this is something that I am hoping to participate in to increase my nursing knowledge and earn some extra money.

I have not yet had the opportunity to go out on placement, but I hope that I enjoy it as much as I am expecting to.

I think the reality is that sometimes I may not enjoy certain aspects of the course, but I must keep an open mind. At times I may be feeling exhausted; however, I will always remember that hard work pays off and it will all be worth it once I am a registered nurse. I can’t wait.

Ella studies Mental Health Nursing at ARU. You can find out more about this and other 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.