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Growth: reflections from a student mental health nurse

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@laurengoudie, a third year mental health student nurse at the University of the West of Scotland who is doing her placements in NHS Ayrshire & Arran, gives her perspective on her time as a student nurse.

I’d suggest that emotion and learning in combination are powerful sources of meaning and direction; it creates a place for personal and professional development and growth, which has supported my understanding of recovery.

Throughout my training I have grown to understand that the phenomena ‘recovery’ requires self- awareness, drive and acceptance to operate outside the box in improving quality of care shadowed by clinical and educational governance, critical appraisal and synthesis.

A unique process

I consider the process unique - a continuum of expectations, attitudes and values, fruitful of conceptional descriptions entwined with a variety of characteristics representing one’s perception.

If I am honest, I feel recovery is a personal choice flourished on how much the individual sits on the continuum of hope, growth and change. As nurses we develop an unconscious awareness that enables us to build on using our thoughts and experiences ‘self’; the ability to enter the perceptual world of another person. That personal choice challenges our expectations on meeting the highly valued outcomes of our governing cornerstones ‘Person centred, safe and effective care’, giving us movement in implementing change.

I could argue that reflection contributes to the enablement of the flight in understanding recovery for the person. It allows us to recognise resilience, risk and vulnerability, empathises understanding, avoids bias perceptions and attitudes; symbolic interactionism (World Health Organization, 2002).

Sartre’s quote (1944) ‘Hell is other people’ may at times reflect on the impact of negative perceptions to recovery based on  beliefs and values imposing on how that person values their journey - free of existential obstacles instead a purpose and meaning in life.

Therapeutic use of self

Wherefore questionable, I comprehended the credibility of multifariousness factors, thus the values and principles to understanding recovery i.e. evaluating strengths and barriers, emotional or personal beliefs, goals in establish identity, hope and meaningful life.

Amongst this learning I discovered that the importance of expressing compassion in the therapeutic use of ‘self’ positively within the therapeutic relationship can be crucial in avoiding false hope and maintaining boundaries.

Throughout my training I have had the honour of getting to know different people and their stories, and can confidently say that not one story is the same.

I have learned that their individuality is the key to finding the right direction in enabling footsteps in finding that hope and pathway (The National Framework for Pre-registration Mental Health Nursing Programmes in Scotland, NHS Education for Scotland, 2006).

I have often reflected on my experiences and feel it is important to synthesise findings and develop own coherent understanding - a competent nurse is crucial for the recovery of mental health service users (Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, 2003).

Personal and Professional Growth

To conclude I have learned that supporting recovery requires a cultural awareness embedded in the vision of values and trust (NHS, Scotland, 2011). Therefore, this working relationship to recovery is a very valuable process which puts an onus on promoting personal and professional  growth and understanding.

Lastly I feel a point to us all: ‘You are the most important person in your life’  (Purcell, 2009).

Lauren has recently achieved her BSc in MH Nursing.



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