How did you get started as a registered Mental Health Nurse?
I’ve had an interest in mental health nursing and adolescent mental health for a long time. Prior to starting a BSc Mental Health Nursing in Trinity College Dublin, I volunteered on a youth advocacy panel. This piqued my interest in the area and when I was applying for college courses it was a no brainer. Throughout my degrees (BSc in Mental Health Nursing and Global Mental Health MSc in King’s College London), and when I started working at St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, I knew I wanted to work in their Willow Grove Adolescent Unit and that’s how I got started here.
Why did you choose to work with St Patrick’s Mental Health Services?
I trained in St Patrick’s Mental Health Services and always found it to be a great workplace. There’s a great sense of community in the hospital and the team I work with in the Willow Grove Adolescent Unit are a very supportive and skilled team to work with, which definitely influenced my decision. From a wider perspective, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services is at the forefront of providing high-quality mental healthcare in Ireland and the experience and opportunities gained from working here are great. There’s great access to postgraduate education and great potential for career progression.
What are you working on at present?
I’m currently working as a registered mental health nurse in Willow Grove Adolescent Unit. Working here has provided me with invaluable experience in adolescent mental healthcare. I work with young people with a range of mental health difficulties and my role enables me to utilise my nursing skills through therapeutic one-to-one time and group facilitation with young people.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is working with young people on the unit. Seeing the improvement and incredible sense of resilience that young people can have is not only incredibly rewarding as a nurse but a testament to the importance of early intervention and promoting positive mental health. Even within a day-to-day capacity, facilitating groups and talking with the young people every day is something that I consider a privilege and is something I really enjoy. Working in Willow Grove really enables me to utilise my full skillset as a nurse both individually and working with a team to provide holistic care to young people.
What is a defining career moment or high point?
A defining moment of my career was pursuing my Master’s degree in Global Mental Health in King’s College London. I received a George Moore scholarship which enabled me to obtain my MSc degree. This provided me with a great insight into mental health solutions and promotion, both nationally and globally. Throughout my training in St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, I was able to hone my interests in the field which helped me decide which MSc I wanted to pursue. I think adolescent mental health nursing as a field is incredibly dynamic and ever-changing, and five years from now I hope to see even more research and innovation in the area.
What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve received?
Never stop learning. There’s no limit to what you can work with in nursing, and particularly with the changing needs of young people’s mental health. As nurses, it is imperative that we are constantly learning and updating our skillset to meet the needs of young people.
If you could go back in time and give yourself a piece of advice at the start of your career, what would that be?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. In particular, working with young people experiencing mental health difficulties can be daunting; their needs can vary significantly from adults in a nursing context. The best way to learn is by doing and by working with young people you can identify many different ways to approach situations and what might be best for each individual. Don’t be afraid to reach out to colleagues for advice – the knowledge gained from other nurses in different stages of their career is invaluable.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about interviewing for this position?
I would recommend St Patrick’s Mental Health Services as an organisation due to the many opportunities it provides. There’s potential for work in many specialist areas with fantastic multidisciplinary teams supporting you.
What would you say are the key skills and capabilities necessary to be good at what you do?
I think a good nurse is an empathic listener with good verbal and non-verbal communication skills. A large part of nursing involves working as a team so working well within a team is very useful. In particular, working with young people requires a sense of fun!
What is the best career lesson you have learned so far?
You can learn so much from your colleagues and should never hesitate to ask for help if you need it.
Which industry professionals should people be following on Twitter/ LinkedIn?
John Creedon (St Patrick’s Mental Health Services); Shane Kirwan (St Patrick’s Mental Health Services); Michael Nash (TCD); Brian Keogh (TCD); Charlotte Gayer-Anderson (KCL); and Tatiana T Salisbury (KCL)
Is there a particular book or resource you’d recommend to someone early in their career?
Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing: The craft of caring by Phil Barker