The role of an RMN Nurse in community mental health services
Mental health jobs are very varied, but none more so than community mental health nursing. Community RMN nurses work with all sectors of society, and often manage their own caseload within a specific team.
Community mental health nursing is a very rewarding career, and can offer a huge variety of working environments. Community mental health treatment is usually available to anyone already diagnosed with a mental health condition via a day centre, respite care facility or in their own home. It’s the responsibility of the community mental health team to try to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions by treating people before they require hospital care, or to manage their care as they are discharged from hospital.
Career opportunities in community mental health nursing
Mental health services in the community are usually split into various teams, each with a specific focus. All community mental health teams work under the local NHS trust umbrella, but often manage their own caseloads within the team. Some community mental health teams may also include, or work with, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, social workers and counsellors.
An older persons mental health team will assess and implement care plans for the over 65s so they can remain in their own homes within the community for as long as possible. It’s also likely there will be some RMN nurses within the team that have experience of caring for patients with dementia, and who manage the care of any patients assigned to the team with that condition. This type of proactive approach helps treat patients within the community in an environment in which they are familiar, and avoids unnecessary hospital admissions.
Alcohol and substance abuse treatment can also happen in the community through a team of specialist mental health nurses. Alcohol or substance abuse can be the cause or result of a mental illness, and a community mental health nurse can help to treat the underlying condition. The skills of an RMN nurse to listen as well as interpret what’s not being said by someone in their care are key to the effectiveness of the treatment they can provide.
Child and adolescent mental health services, or CAMHS as it is shortened to, also employs RMN nurses in the community. Managing a caseload of children and young adults with mental health illnesses and treating them in their own homes or through community facilities, a CAMHS team may also receive referrals from consultant psychiatrists for patients being discharged from an inpatient unit.
How to become an RMN Nurse
In order to become a mental health nurse in the UK, you must attend a university level nursing course. There are many to choose from, including specific mental health branch courses. It’s often the case that those who already know they want to specialise in mental health go for this option because the placements will be focussed in mental health environments rather than general clinical and community settings. This will give you more first hand practical experience in a mental health environment before you qualify.
However you may decide to train as an adult nurse first, and then complete a 1 year mental health conversion course to become a dual trained RGN / RMN Nurse. This obviously adds another year to the training, but it may mean that you have more job opportunities open to you at the end of your training. Whichever option you decide to go for, as long as you are a UK or EU citizen the NHS will pay the tuition fees for your first nursing degree, and you may also be eligible to receive a means tested non-repayable bursary.
In nearly all nursing courses you will spend approximately 60% of your time experiencing day to day nursing skills first hand on a practical placement. These range from community to clinical, from intensive care to day clinic. You will learn clinical skills and assessment techniques, implementing evidence based care, and psychology for healthcare. You will be required to pass each placement by successfully completing all learning outcomes, as agreed with your mentor. Once you complete your course all your documentation will be sent to the NMC for checking, and you will receive your PIN number shortly after the end of your course. This means you can start work as an RMN staff nurse.
Get your first mental health nursing job
As a third year student nurse you will start looking for jobs, put together your CV and personal statement and then start applying. When you’re job hunting online you need to remember that there are websites that offer both public and private sector community nursing jobs. You can also expect that even though a private company might be recruiting for a role, it could involve working in the public sector. This often happens in the community when a private company is contracted to provide a large number of staff to a particular public sector organisation such as a local council.
As a newly qualified mental health nurse, your placement experience is key to your portfolio so make sure you draw attention to your success' and most valuable learning experiences. Don’t go to an interview thinking you’re inexperienced, you’re not, you’re exactly where every other newly qualified nurse was once. It’s all about how you present your journey and learning curve that will get you the job.
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