Leon studied mental health nursing as a mature student at Teesside University and now works as a Community Psychiatric Nurse at a local NHS Trust.
'The course was amazing and prepared me for a career in nursing.'
I read Teesside’s reviews and I was impressed by its accolades. Before I applied, I went to an open day and attended a talk for the mental health nursing programme. This gave me an understanding of what to expect on the course and an opportunity to ask questions. I also looked at the facilities and was impressed with the University’s ambition to develop.
There are plenty of aspects I enjoyed, from the leisure and educational facilities, to the staff across the campus. Staff from the library, Students’ Union, and catering all added to the experience. I was impressed with the sport and leisure facilities which I used regularly to unwind from my studies.
Middlesbrough is a vibrant multi-cultural town and I relished being a student here. I’m from Durham and the town has good bus links and it’s close enough to commute. I met some great friends here, shared some fantastic experiences and I have long-lasting memories of my student days.
Although I initially wanted to work in child and adolescent mental health services, while at university I’d been on placement in an adult community mental health team. I thoroughly enjoyed my placement and felt as though I was prepared for the challenge of working with adults. When a vacancy arose within this team, I applied for it.
I’m now a Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) in a busy community mental health team in County Durham. I’m also a Care Co-ordinator to clients on my caseload. The team is integrated and in partnership with the local authority. I work in collaboration with varying services in the locality from housing, community rehab teams, crisis teams, community drug and alcohol services, local support hubs and groups, local charities, and probation officers.
Placements were so intrinsic in student nursing – they allowed me to be in real working conditions, and observe the dynamic roles and responsibilities of modern day mental health nursing. Placements also allowed me to differentiate the role of the community nurse to the ward nurse.
The nursing degree was led by experienced, knowledgeable lecturers who have worked as nurses. I found them to be highly supportive and approachable – vital when I needed advice and guidance. The facilities were also excellent, especially in the ward-based simulation rooms which allowed us to prepare for practice. And the facilities and resources in the library are fantastic. Library staff provided support in searching for literature and how to write academically, which I found beneficial as a mature student returning to education after a 20-year break.
My ambitions for the future are to develop further skills as a CPN in my chosen client group. I also hope to become a mentor to the future mental health nursing students as I value the importance of professional, sound and efficient mentorship. I will return to postgraduate education in a few years but I want to establish myself as a CPN first.
I have aspirations to move abroad with my wife and two boys, to nurse in Australia. Having NHS training and a recognised degree in nursing studies is a passport to nurse around the world.
I would recommend Teesside for the facilities and the wealth of experience and support available. The course was amazing and prepared me for a career in nursing.
The student nurse experience is a realistic opportunity to view modern-day nursing. I would advise any student nurse to utilise all the facilities that are available to them, from the academic support staff in the library and individual tutor support. Try to get as much as you can from each nursing placement and never be afraid to ask questions.