We hear from a recent QNIS prizewinner Charlotte Milliken, who received the undergraduate Academic Award for the University of Abertay.
Finding out that I had won the QNIS prize for highest performance in my first year community placement was a delightful surprise. I have always aimed to achieve the highest possible in what I turn my hand to, but winning a prize outwith high grades was the icing on the cake of my first year training as a Mental Health Nurse. Initially I scoffed, I admit, as I did not believe I had won an award and the email notification HAD to be a prank! I had considered my deep enjoyment of the placement to be enough of a reward, as I felt that once I was qualified and had gained greater experience, working as a Community Mental Health Nurse was something which I would love to do.
My path to nursing has not been traditional; my initial qualifications are in Fine Art and Archaeology, and I spent years working in the jewellery business before coming to the desire to do something which would help others rather than make money. I have found that the skills I learned in this time, of watching body language and listening to what a person is not saying have given me a good foundation from which to build rapport with the individuals I have met and worked with so far in my course. I came to my course with the “soft” skills ready to be honed, and my university have offered me the opportunities to develop the “hard” skills of clinical knowledge and practical nursing techniques.
When I started my first year community placement, the fine mix of “soft” skills required for working with people in their homes as opposed to in a ward setting was fascinating to me, as I observed those I worked with subtly changing their approaches to every person they visited. The placement I was on encouraged me to push my practical skills as well as my verbal and non- verbal skills, giving me the opportunity to do injections and health monitoring clinics as well. It was a good reminder that even in the community we as nurses must support the individual as a whole rather than simply the mind or the body.
Winning the QNIS prize is a great motivator for me, as it solidifies my belief that working as a Community Mental Health Nurse is where my career will lead me, and that I am building a strong foundation in the skills which I will need to be as compassionate a nurse as those I have met an worked with so far on my course.