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An RMN puts the the 'P' into Psychiatric nursing

An RMN puts the the 'P' into Psychiatric nursing

Samantha Whittle is an RMN who thinks mental health nursing should still be called Psychiatric Nursing. Here’s her reason why….

Thinking of joining the psychiatric nursing profession? I was eighteen when I started my RMN training in Salford. I was told I would be 'eaten alive’. People asked, why would anyone want to do this kind of nursing? Twenty years on I can't think of anything more rewarding and challenging.

It's called mental health nursing now, but thinking about my job, P stands for more than Psychiatric.

PSYCHIATRY… a good knowledge of this will enhance your skills, you will never stop learning - your brain will be filled.

During my career I have learnt how to teach student nurses; I have a certificate in cognitive behaviour therapy; I’ve taken courses on management skills and annual fire, infection control and first aid. There is always the opportunity for learning and always something exciting and new to learn.

PROFESSIONAL… know the code and follow the code. There’s a standard code of conduct to guide you through. Knowing your boundaries is a valuable skill in mental health nursing. You are there to help patients, yes, but not to make friends. Patients especially the same age often wanted to make friends with me but that's not what nurses are there for. We have to tell the truth. And, remember, we get to leave.

PUNCTUAL… never be late. The night staff are your team and they want to go home.

PIN number… use it, never abuse it and don't lose it. Re-register once a year.

PRESENTABLE… after all who wants to be looked after by a mess? I have represented the nursing profession and taught others to do the same. Uniform or not: no short skirts, and no advertising logos on your T Shirt.

PROUD… you are doing a job that others won't do. Discrimination and mis-understanding still exists today. I am proud to have helped people and been able to tell them 'it will be okay’.

PAY AND PENSION… nursing is a vocation, but nobody expects you to do it for free.

PEERS…. The nurses I have worked with have been one big family to me. I remember one nursing assistant who put a fire out by standing on it with her right foot. She’d been making bacon butties for everyone on the early shift.

PATIENT… over the years my advice has sometimes fallen on deaf ears. I learnt to say the right words to get people to understand. I don't mean patients here; I mean patience. Lay people are quick to judge and reprimand. They need a lot of my patience.

Best of all is the 'double P' you get to be a 'PEOPLE PERSON’. Not always, but when you get a ‘Thank you' it’s a great feeling. You know you did the right thing. And that’s all you can ever do.

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