Hello, I’m Gearoid and I’m a clinical academic mental health nurse. And what that means is that I spend half my week working in a university, doing teaching and research, and the other half I work as a nurse specialist in liaison psychiatry in the NHS.
So, my nursing journey started back in Ireland when I was studying for my first degree and I got a part-time job in a local service for people with learning disabilities. And I ended up spending most of my time working in the mental health unit, in that unit. So, it was specialist service – mental health service – for people with learning disability, and I absolutely loved it.
So, my typical day. I don't really have a typical day – and I think a lot of nurses will probably say that – it really depends what I’m doing in that day. So, if I’m in academia, I am either having face-to-face teaching on campus, or I’m at home, maybe preparing an online lecture or delivering an online lecture. I could be having some meetings around practice learning, or I could be involved in some research meetings. I could actually be collecting some data as part of a research study, it really just depends.
My clinical role, that has a little bit more of a rhythm to it, albeit it is still really, really varied. And I suppose how my day starts off is me picking up the pager. It means getting a handover from the out-of-hours team, hearing if there's anyone waiting for me to go and see.
I usually start my day by going into the emergency department and visiting all the different sections there and seeing if there's anyone waiting for mental health assessment, catching up with my colleagues in there as well too, seeing how they're getting on. They might inform me of some patients who they haven't quite seen yet but they think I might need to see later, and that's always good. So, you're able to kind of have a bit of an idea in your in your head about how your day might go.
Then I have—we usually have an MDT [multi-disciplinary team] meeting and that's with the nurses in the team, with our medical colleagues, junior doctors, and consultants, and we usually get a handover from the clinical toxicologist. And from that then we divvy up the work and we all, we all chip in – it doesn't matter our background – we all chip in and see patients there. And once all that's, kind of, tied up, the rest of the day really just varies.
I could be on duty, which means I am on covering the pager for the emergency department, so that that people get seen just as quickly for a mental health issue as they do for their physical health. Or I could be in an outpatient clinic, seeing patients who have maybe previously [been] assessed in crisis and in distress, and I’m bringing them back and doing some interventions with them to try and help, kind of, reduce that distress and support them a bit more.
What makes me proud to be a nurse? I think lots of things, first of all I have fantastic colleagues and they make me really proud to be a nurse. Some of the work that they do is just phenomenal, and they really actually do inspire me to keep going and to be better. So, I think that's what makes me really proud to be a nurse.
Also, the number of people that nurses help on a day-to-day basis, in such variety of settings. Everyone kind of thinks, nursing, you're working in a hospital and that's not true. Nurses can be found in nearly every single setting possible. They are in people's houses, they're in community centres, they're working in parish centres, attached to churches, they're in GP practices, they're in prisons, they're everywhere. And I just think the breadth of nursing work, and all the phenomenal work that you do to improve patient outcomes and prevent harm, is really, really inspiring and it makes me really, really proud to be a nurse.
The advice I’d give to other people, who are thinking of becoming nurses, is first of all speak to other nurses and don't just speak to people who work in one role, okay. The variety of roles that nurses undertake are so varied and diverse and you might not actually even realise the scope of roles that nurses undertake. I’d also say it's really important to know what the entry requirements are for nursing and what, kind of, you need to do. So, sometimes, maybe if you are coming to nursing a bit later in life, you might need to, maybe, redo that higher or standard in science, or in biology, or chemistry. And it's just, kind of, maybe knowing about that before applying.
There is no wrong time to do your nursing and, in my cohort, when I was a student, the age ranged from 18 right up to 55. There is no wrong time, and that's what makes it such a great profession is that it attracts people from really, really diverse backgrounds sometimes, who have done the most weird and wonderful things, and are actually able to bring that to patient care and to make patients’ care better.
Research what roles are out there, see what gets you excited, look at the entry requirements, and just go for it.