My return to RGU Blog
I graduated from RGU the first time around in 1998 with a diploma in mental health nursing. Following this, I have worked in acute mental health settings and travelled across Australia, working in a variety of mental health environments. Since 2001 I’ve been working on and off in the specialised field of mental health and deafness.
My current post of Advanced Nurse Practitioner within the Scottish Mental Health Service for Deaf People required me to do something I never thought I would, return to university! Although I had completed several therapy based degree level courses in both Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Solution Focused Therapy the thought of returning to university to undertake a postgraduate programme was very daunting, especially due to the advances in technology since my first graduation. We still hand wrote our assignments 20 years ago and there was no computerised database search system.
Whilst searching for the right course I was attracted to the Masters in Advanced Nursing Practice due to the flexibility it offered in module choice. The online delivery appealed to me due to my busy working and home life. I was able to complete my university work in my own time, in my pyjamas, sitting at my dining room table.
I began the course in September 2015 and initially found the jump to Masters level a real challenge, I like to waffle and found the direct, succinct style of Masters level difficult to grasp. However, the support offered at the university was a Godsend. Through attending study skill support sessions I was able to make my writing more succinct and less descriptive, which in turn helped reduce my anxieties.
Over the 3 year course, I completed modules in research, leadership, work-based learning and nurse-led practice. These modules enhanced my skills in interpreting research, reflection and allowed me to progress my leadership skills to an advanced level. The final piece of work being the dissertation.
I based my dissertation around a service evaluation which enabled me to gain the views of our clients on our service. Traditionally deaf people have been excluded from research so this gave our clients a platform to share how they feel their care could be improved and promoted partnership working. While I found the dissertation a challenging process, the feedback gained has given our team useful ideas for how to further develop the service and ultimately enhance the patient experience.
For the oral component of the module we were required to present a succinct summary of our dissertation in poster format to both clinical and academic colleagues. This facilitated the development of presentation skills which also helping to raise the profile of our service.
Reflecting on my development throughout the Masters programme, I can see the impact that studying at this level has had on my confidence as an ANP. In my role I’m required to offer assessment and treatment to clients with both mental health issues and a hearing impairment. Furthermore, a large percentage of our work is liaising with local mental health teams to ensure best practice and the highest standard of care for our mutual clients. Deaf people often face barriers when accessing health care and we are regularly required to question practice with local teams. This often involves highlighting research and promoting evidence-based approaches to improve deaf people’s journey through mental health services and promote recovery-based practice. Studying at Masters level has enhanced my confidence in my own abilities. I went from a position of self-doubt at the beginning of the course to completing the programme with distinction. The graduation was one of the proudest moments of my life and I’ll never forget the look on the faces of my family and friends as they watched me walk across the stage to collect the reward for the 3 years hard work.
Are you interested in advanced practice? RGU offer MSc Advancing Nursing Practice allowing experienced nurses or midwives to develop their skills and knowledge required for advanced practice.