Throughout the month, staff and students from our Mental Health Nursing team in the School of Health Sciences have been sharing a series of blog posts. This week we hear from students John Sharp and Nicola Sargison, who are both studying Child and Mental Health Nursing BSc (Hons), a new dual registration programme at the University.

Both John and Nicola have experience of working in the care sector, and have reflected on their understanding of ‘excellence’ in anticipation of their new studies.

“I am studying… to learn and perform well academically, but this alone won’t make me an excellent nurse. Excellence comes from within and is how I apply new skills, and how I engage with patients and colleagues”

John Sharp

John: After 15 years working in the events industry, primarily as a sound engineer, I decided to change careers and mid-pandemic I applied for a position in the care sector. Everything revolves around the client in the events industry, whether that’s the audience member purchasing tickets or the performer on stage or screen. It was my job to make clients feel comfortable and relaxed, to ensure their experience was as good as it could be.  

Since working as a support practitioner, I’ve learned of the term ‘person centred care’. Comparative to events work, the person receiving care is now central to the work that I do, to ensure high-quality care delivery. This I what I understand excellence to be. I see my care colleagues going out of their way to make people feel as happy and fulfilled as possible, often in challenging environments. This might be offering physical or emotional support, helping a person find a social group they’ll enjoy, or just being there to listen. My colleagues often go unseen, despite being excellent.  

I am studying at the University to learn and perform well academically, but this alone won’t make me an excellent nurse. Excellence comes from within and is how I apply new skills, and how I engage with patients and colleagues.

“Excellence may not be something I can frame… or something I can ‘evidence’ on my LinkedIn profile! For me excellence is not so tangible”

Nicola Sargison

Nicola: Having worked in care for most of my adult life, I have met many inspiring nurses, such as the nurse who gently convinced a man to shower despite his fear of water, or the nurse who kept a child with sensory processing needs calm in an environment of neon lights and strange noises. I recognise the value of knowledge and science-based evidence for the development of healthcare, and I value those who contribute to these efforts. However, the nurses I admire the most are often unseen, offering kindness and compassion, and who listen and advocate for those who need it. Additionally, I’ve had the privilege of seeing excellence within the people I support and care for. For example, I have learned from the resilience and creativity of the non-verbal young people I’ve met, who strive to make their needs known, despite living in a society that is not designed for them.  

Excellence may not be something that I can frame on a wall, or something I can ‘evidence’ on my LinkedIn profile! For me, excellence is not so tangible, but it’s been central to all the amazing experiences I have had working in care, and evident in all the individuals who inspired me to apply for this course.