Ian Summers, Mental Health Nursing student

Why did you choose Plymouth University?

Plymouth is convenient to me as I live there, but I think what made my mind up was the Guardian newspaper which said that Plymouth was one of the top universities for nursing. I think now in my final year I can see why, the teaching here and also the structure of the course is absolutely brilliant.

What are your views on the placement element of your course?

On the Mental Health course we do six placements. The first placement is in general nursing. General Nursing (experience) is essential for good Mental Health practice. Therefore (in this placement) we look at both general nursing and mental health. 

My first placement was a nursing home, great place to learn basic skills. My next placement was a home for those with psychosis, it’s like a retirement home really, that was a great experience where you learnt how the person had gone through the system and how they have progressed to where they are now. My third placement was in Dartmoor Prison, there was loads of opportunity for you to learn and progress and the people you meet are so supportive. 

I went to my fourth placement which was at a secure unit, that was a totally different experience because comparing it to the prison environment it was more clinical rather than supportive as you are with clients where you cannot have a one to one. This I found really rewarding because didn’t know a lot about the elderly and how it affects their family, especially the patient’s children. Learning how to respond when a dementia patient doesn’t recognise their children. A great, great experience.

I’ve decided to go back to the prison for my final placement for 6 months, and I hope to have a career with the prison service, as it was a great learning curve to my education and career. The nurses and managers were so supportive, they wanted me to learn. There was also the opportunity for change in the prison service, a can do attitude where new ideas such as clinical skills and management is not just of mental health but also physical health.

What are the good and bad bits of the course? If there is anything negative how have you overcome this?

I began my application by taking an access course at Saltash College; this was my biggest learning really as it gave me a grounding for the university challenge. When I left school at 15 I had no qualifications what so ever, so I had to gain them in order to apply for this course. It was a bit of a struggle to begin with but I enjoyed the learning, and once I started the University of Plymouth course I was diagnosed with dyslexia. Understanding my learning objectives and how I learn helped me to progress much further as I had a problem with my grammar, spelling and structure of essays, but once I was diagnosed I had all the help in place. I started off hitting 50%, since I have received this help I am hitting 70% and towards 80%. The experience I have felt the most is the support that you get at the Plymouth University, it’s not just where you can go and get help it’s that the lecturers want you to learn and want you to progress.

The facilities at the University have been really good, especially for my needs. If I need a laptop to use I can hire one from the University, but also they have supplied me with a laptop. I have looked at our site called Emily, which is where we can discuss issues we have with a module also all our learning materials are on there which we can download so we know before we go to lectures what it is going to be about. 

I also use the gym at the University, it is very cheap for membership and I use that most weeks.