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'Every shift is a reminder of how mental illness should never define a person'

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We talk to Hazel Nash, a student mental health hurse at Birmingham City University, due to qualify in December

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

I originally wanted to train as a teacher and read physical geography at the University of Birmingham, but the course didn’t inspire me and I left with no real idea of what I wanted to do with my life. Prior to starting at BCU, I had seen a lot of amazing nursing. One morning it all seemed to fall into place and I thought: “I want to do that! I could work hard and really make a difference to peoples’ lives!” So the next day I applied. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

What will be your first job in nursing?

I’ve accepted my first job to start in January. I’ll be relocating to London, which is nerve-wracking but I am so excited for the move!

What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?

Outside work, I have absolutely no poker face! This adds an element of jeopardy to present-opening at birthdays and Christmases.

From whom have you learnt the most in your nursing career and why?

My service users, hands down. Every shift is a reminder of how mental illness should never define a person. However desperate a person’s situation when they enter crisis services, it is only ever a chapter in a far longer story.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the profession?

Throw yourself into it. You can’t make it through the course unless you’re truly passionate about the career.

What keeps you awake at night?

There’s so much hate and anger in the world. Since the vote to leave the EU, I feel like people are feeling progressively more insular and separate, when we should be coming together. I wonder what that means for our profession and the vulnerable people in our care.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Watching someone open up and realise things about themselves that they may never have if they had noone to talk to.

What’s your proudest achievement?

Being SNT student editor is difficult to top!  

What do you think is likely to change nursing in the next decade?

Further staffing shortages exacerbated by the removal of the bursary and restrictions on foreign staff coming into the UK.  

Which job would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?

When I was younger, I wanted to be a vet by day and a Speedway rider (motorbike racing) by night. Maybe I could have made that happen?

What job would you like to be doing in five years?

A fast-paced job helping people in acute crisis. Many of my favourite experiences have been in Places of Safety or as part of community police-partnership services, so I’ve seen the positive impact of kind, timely mental health care.

What do you think makes a good nurse?

I love people - they never ever stop surprising me and I feel so lucky to have a job where I get these insights into other peoples’ lives.

If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?

Jeremy Hunt.

What would your ideal weekend involve?

Friends, family, eating. Probably a lot of cheese.

If you could spend an hour with a famous or notable person, who would it be and why?

Ha! Probably the least professional answer yet but it would be Craig David. He just seems like such a nice chap! I’ve been a fan of his music for years and one of my proudest moments on the wards was when a service user sang me a Craig David medley to say thank you for working with him. It melted my heart!




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