Mental health nursing student insight: Callum-John Wilson

Second year BSc (Hons) Nursing (Mental Health) student Callum-John shares his insight into studying at Plymouth.

What inspired you to choose to study mental health nursing?

"I came into mental health nursing with the aim of working in transgendered care. I wanted to inflict change on the trans care statistics, aiming to raise awareness and highlight the lack of funding and care that is available to the transgender community."

"I love mental health nursing because of how challenging, rewarding and complex it is. Forever thinking on your toes in clinical work and being empathetic and compassionate in all aspects of patient care."

When did you know you’d chosen the right career path?

"I knew I'd chosen the right path on acute mental health ward placement. A patient I was caring for was experiencing visual and audio hallucinations that was triggering their PTSD. I was able to clear the environment and support the patient through this incredibly scary time. Using therapeutic tools that had been taught to me in University, placement and extra reading, I was able to support the patient for them to feel safe. 

"After this episode and the patient calming down, the patient said to me “thank-you for making me feel safe, I couldn’t have got through that without you”. That is the moment I knew I was a nurse."

What excites you about your course?

"I have been able to take blood and read blood profiles, supporting individuals come out of their sections and go into informal care. I have been able to support individuals go home after long term stays in hospital and above all, I have been able to do this alongside my friends and peers in clinical placements and University.

"The lecturers is what makes the course special. I feel so supported and cared for whenever asking questions, needing guidance or asking for support. 

"In addition to this, the up-to-date clinical skills rooms in the University have created an open and safe space to try and re-try new skills before going into clinical placements."

What are your future ambitions?

"I have an aim to open a community-based project (a hub) that supports transgendered youth in their journey to become who they really are. I want to focus on the social determinants of health, working at empowering local/national schools on transgender care and rights, implementing more care pathways and opening community-based mental health teams that offer talking therapies, clinical nursing and support individuals during and after their transition.

"Overall, I see myself campaigning and support trans rights, adding academic writings and papers about transgendered care and advocating for the trans community."

What skills have you gained so far?

"I have gained so many interpersonal skills and communicative tools. Learning how to advocate for unwell individuals in all aspects of their care and their life. I have gained deeper knowledge of healthcare legislations and patient rights in care. I have gained clinical skills of nursing, learning the biological sides of the human body. Pharmacological studies have allowed me to understand drugs and their interactions in the body on a cellular level as well as their therapeutic effects."

"I have been very lucky in placement allocations. I have been in a specialised inpatient eating disorder ward and mental health rehabilitation ward. In addition to these, I have gone on bespoke days to acute mental health wards: Acute long term stay, forensic wards and a mother and baby unit.

"My proudest achievement hasn’t come from something I have done, it came from watching a young patient conquer their fear. Supporting a patient to complete a meal after months of being scared of food. Talking them through their fears and offering support to them when it got difficult."

What advice would you give to future students considering nursing?

"For anyone who is wanting to pursue a career in mental health nursing, I would advise you to do so. The changes you make, the people you support, the advocation you perform in this role is so rewarding and inspiring."