Nutmeg Hallett, BNurs 2009 | Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing
Nutmeg is currently working as a Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing here at the University of Birmingham.
What has your career been like since graduating from the University?
Since graduating from the University of Birmingham in 2009, my career has progressed, although not necessarily the way I thought it would. My first job as a RMN was in a medium secure hospital, working with people who had a forensic history, or were too difficult to treat in acute mental health services. This was a challenging role, and I feel like I hit the ground running. Although I really enjoyed my role as a nurse on the wards, I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted my career to go in. I liked the idea of research, so I enrolled in two Master’s level research modules, also at the University of Birmingham. Having completed these I applied for, and was accepted to undertake a fully-funded PhD, investigating violence and aggression within secure mental health services.
What is your current role and what does it involve?
I have now completed my PhD and am working as a lecturer in mental health nursing, here at the University of Birmingham. I love my current role; it is varied and diverse, and never boring. I have the opportunity to work with amazing students, developing the next generation of nurses. I am also continuing my research career, publishing papers and working on projects that will benefit staff and patients, with a particular focus on violence prevention. The biggest challenge I have is finding the time to do everything!
How did your degree help perapre your for your career?
When I first started as an undergraduate nursing student at the University of Birmingham, I was planning to go into children’s nursing, but after completing a mental health placement as part of the foundation year, I realised that I was much more suited to mental health nursing. If I’d gone to any other university, I wouldn’t have had that opportunity, and my career would be completely different now.
Why did you choose to study Nursing at Birmingham?
I wanted to study in Birmingham because I really like the city. It’s vibrant, with lots on, but it is much easier and friendlier than London, where I lived previously. I chose the University of Birmingham because of its reputation, and also because the campus is such a nice place to be, particularly in the summer.
How would you sum up your time in Birmingham in three words?
Exhausting, inspiring, educational.
What inspired you the most during your time as a student?
I made life-long friendships on my course. I still regularly meet up with other students, even though they’ve moved all over the country. I kept up with my lecturers, and they are now my colleagues.
What advice would you give to people who are considering studying nursing at Birmingham?
Nursing is not an easy option – the course is demanding, both in terms of time and commitment but the rewards are immense. Nothing beats the satisfaction of a job well done, because that means you’ve made somebody’s life better. One of the best things about studying mental health nursing at the University of Birmingham is the small group sizes. Much of the teaching is in groups of less than 20, so the staff and students get to know each other really well. And having a common foundation year is an amazing opportunity. For some people, like me, it changes their mind about which field of practice they want to go into. For all students it gives them a grounding in all fields of practice, meaning that they will be more rounded nurses when they qualify.
What advice would you give to current nursing students who are still undecided about which area of nursing to go into?
For students in the first year who are still undecided about which area of nursing to go into, I would recommend choosing the one that you will enjoy the most. I often hear students saying that they have been told that if they are unsure between adult and mental health nursing, that they should choose adult nursing because it is easier to retrain as a mental health nurse after qualifying. But I always tell them that it is just as easy and takes the same amount of time to retrain as an adult nurse after qualifying, which is why they should think about what they want to do right now, not what they may or may not want to do in the future.