From mental health nurse to nurse lecturer.

This post is from Samantha Chapman, who has just started work as a Mental Health Nurse Lecturer at BCU. We are delighted to welcome her to BCU & hope that you will give her a warm welcome too!

Having spent the last 6 years working with people who experience severe and enduring mental health needs I am now into my third week as a mental health nurse lecturer at Birmingham City University. Frequently having to pull myself down from cloud nine, I shake my own shoulders and remind myself ‘this is the honeymoon period’. Soon I will be committed to my own workload and responsibilities. The transition from nursing in an Assertive Outreach Team to nurse lecturer so far has been very different but enjoyable. I loved nursing; in fact it’s the longest I have ever stayed in the same job. I loved the variety, the experience, the presentation of symptoms, patient’s strengths and advocating, caring and the ongoing learning process as I became more experienced. People I worked with predicted the world of lecturing for me before I chose the path myself. In response I would tell them I’m not ready to leave clinical practice, equally I loved presenting and sharing information to teams, staff, patients and students within my nurse role.

Now I have entered a world where the language and terms used are strange and new. Three weeks into the job I have met with Moodle, Eyelit, Talislist and Uceel, tools I am to become familiar with as they become part of my daily teaching. There is plenty to keep any lecturer busy, with moderation, invigilation, interviews, marking, quality meetings, boards of study and Rolex. There are students to visit on placement, tutorial meetings and personal students to support. There are pathways to co-ordinate, modules to run and classes to teach. In addition, lecturers will want to commit some of their time and interests in research, publication of work, design and creation of new teaching systems. For me, effective time and diary management is essential if I want to contribute fully to my role.

Considering the amount of work expected of the lecturer is it also important to allow time for ongoing involvement in clinical practice. How much time can I realistically commit? Is clinical practice the only way to stay fresh and ahead with clinical issues and skills? Is it essential and do students notice a difference to the quality of their learning experience? Having recently come from clinical practice, I am more concerned with the long term effects if clinical experience is not maintained. Is there cause for concern?

With all that I have highlighted, the University is a buzzing place to work, this week there were delicious homemade cakes, strawberries and cream and fruit punch to tempt us all and raise money for charity, the lemon slice with homemade lemon curd was particularly tasty! When the sun is shining the grounds are perfect for a sunny lunch break.

I would be interested in any comments.


2 thoughts on “From mental health nurse to nurse lecturer.

  1. As a student, I prefer it if my lecturers are still gaining experience in clinical settings. It makes me feel better to know that they are still in touch with the ‘real world’ :o)And it gives me faith that I’m not being taught by people who became academics because they couldn’t hack it in a clinical role. But as to staying fresh and ahead with clinical issues and skills, in my experience the lecturers are usually aware of new developments before the staff on the wards, stuff seems to filter down to them at glacier speed sometimes :o)

    Good luck with the job!

  2. What an interesting and lovely story Samantha. There is one word missing from the script, but is forgivable in a sense because this is how it is for the majority in mental health.

    The word that is missing is carer, those who are most often forgotten.

    I will paste an extract of something I recently wrote to the World Health Oraganisation and what’s it’s like living with smeone with severe mental illness:

    Family members cannot express how they feel in front of their relative, professionals more often than not only see the carer when the patient is present. This is where the isolation comes in, what is not recognised or if it is I have never had it acknowledged to me. Is that when you live with and support someone with severe mental illness added to the emotional attachment you have with them, you actually live the illness and symptoms with them. It’s much like the effects of passive smoking, when you are exposed to the symptoms, the paranoia, the delusions and hallucinations not to mention nightmares.

    The only way you are able to understand is to imagine what is being relayed back to you, picture it in your mind and how it must be for your relative. I do not have schizophrenia myself, but I feel as if I have lived the experience of my son almost like secondary schizophrenia. I do not think this only applies to schizophrenia but other mental illness also, these illnesses not only play mind games with the patient but with those around them also.

    The reason why I will keep highlighting carers and family members. What I have said above has come from many carers I have worked with, in various dialogue of expression.

    When you take into consideration the impact that stress has upon the patient I have often related to this situation as there being two open wounds that have been infected, one gets treated with anti biotics (the patient) and the other receiving no treatment at all (the carer). Then cross infection comes to mind.

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