Yesterday I got my A-Level results and I got into university to study Mental Health Nursing.
I’m so excited. I can’t wait to begin my nursing journey. I feel like I’ve been waiting a long time for this, even though I only made my decision in February that this was what I wanted to do. I’d already applied to do Psychology, and was debating whether to start a new application for Mental Health Nursing. It seemed like a lot of unnecessary effort and stress. Obviously I haven’t begun the course yet, but I already know that I 100% made the right decision. I’d been debating the two fields for a while, but I think I let other people persuade me into Psychology.
I got some negative comments about nursing – that ‘Oh you’re too academic, you should go into Psychology’, or ‘You’ll get bored’, or ‘It’s too emotional’, and I allowed the people I thought had influence over me to govern my actions since I was unsure. I think there is still a stigma, I’m not sure if that’s the correct word, or perhaps a stereotype, surrounding nursing.
‘You’re too academic?’ – No. Absolute rubbish. Nursing requires determination, hard work and effort, in ways that other courses never will. It’s respectable and admirable, the perseverance of nurses trying to deliver the best quality care they possibly can while being understaffed and underfunded, increasingly pressured, and then there’s students who have to work shifts like everyone else whilst studying at the same time on days off. Nurses can be super academic, or they may struggle academically – either way, suggesting that nurses are less academic is unfair, when it is not true.
‘You’ll get bored.’ – No. There is such a variety of areas mental health nurses can work in – general hospitals, community setting, inpatient units, home treatment, schools, etc, and then the possibility of moving into more management and senior leadership roles. Each day, each patient you meet, each hour of working in the mental health sector is different. It’s unpredictable. It keeps you on your toes, exhausted by the end of the shift, but with a sense of satisfaction that you may have been able to make a difference to someone during that day.
‘Being a doctor or a psychologist is probably better’. – No. Sure, if that’s what you want to do, and that’s where your passion lies. But if it’s not, it’s probably better to ignore whoever is saying that and follow your heart.
‘It’s too emotional, don’t do it.’ – Yes, it is going to be emotional. But someone has to do it. Yes, it’s important to work on learning to detach yourself from the situation, and be able to switch off when you leave work. However, the emotion you may feel for someone, shows empathy. And that’s what’s needed in this line of work – they make the best professionals. They have care, compassion and empathy.
While these are all comments I received when I was debating over nursing, the positive, encouraging comments I have received can’t be ignored. Several times when people have asked me what I’m doing after A-Levels and I’ve explained, have said ‘That’s brilliant. We need more of you.’ (i.e. more mental health nurses). I have been so encouraged by so many people.
I have met some amazing mental health nurses through my experience in mental health services. They’ve helped me with normal life, reassured me, given me hope, spoken up for me when no-one listened to me, made me smile, and helped me regain control over my life. I want to give back what they have done for me.
I can’t wait to begin nursing. I’m nervous. I’m scared of the unknown. Mostly, I’m excited. I’m going to blog along the way. I hope you’ll join me on my journey.