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Lecturer Practitioner in Mental Health Nursing

Career Pathway

Career Directions

Area of Practice

  • Mental Health Nursing


  • Education Provider

Job/Role Summary

  • Three main components: - Practice as a C.P.N. one day per week; - Lecturer-facilitating the learning of pre-registration and post-registration nurses (mainly Practice Development with post-registration nurses); - Project work on behalf of the Trust.
  • In practice my clinical work is with a caseload of people who have long-standing mental health problems. The lecturer component includes provision of the educational input to the University of Ulster/Royal College of Nursing Practice Development programme.
  • The project work on behalf of the Trust includes leading on suicide prevention activity. I am an Applied Suicide Intervention Skills trainer and am currently a provisional coaching trainer. I am the Trust's representative on the Suicide Prevention Strategy Taskforce being developed by DHSSPSNI.
  • I chair the WELL project steering group, the World Mental Health Committee in the Trust and have a key leadership role in Finneston House's Practice Development Unit Accreditation process.


Specific qualifications and experience required

  • Registered Mental Nurse with at least two years experience. Currently continuing in practice.
  • First or second-class Honours degree in Nursing or a Master's degree for the lecturer component.
  • Having published in peer-reviewed journals is a desirable qualification.


Career Milestones

I spent the first nine years of clinical practice at Downshire which gave me a very strong clinical foundation across the spectrum of in-patient care. I completed a short course on the rehabilitation of people with mental illness which enabled me to clearly identify institutional thinking and practices. Experience as a Community Psychiatric Nurse and the Certificate qualification helped me truly appreciate the uniqueness of people in their various settings. Undertaking the Teacher Practitioner programme was very enlightening and exciting and helped me discover the adult learning process for myself and my contribution to the learning of other adults. I undertook a secondment into general management in Primary Care Management. The secondment lasted fifteen months. I missed the contact with clients and concluded that management at that time at least, was not my future. I undertook a small research study focusing on the phenomenon of suicide and its prevention. This has become a key area of interest for me since. My Master's study centred on suicide prevention through the accounts of young males who attempted to kill themselves and survived. The Clinical Nurse Leadership Programme was a significant point in my career and greatly encouraged me to think even bolder. My learning-set members are an ongoing source of supportive challenge, learning and friendship. Undertaking the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills training was life changing in deepening my understanding of suicide prevention for people at risk. Thanks to the Florence Nightingale Foundation I was enabled to complete a scholarship tour of Canada and United States which consolidated and enhanced my strategic thinking abilities.


What attracted you to this job?

Opportunity to advance my career without losing direct contact with clients. Opportunity to share some of my leaning and experience with other learners, both new entrants and post-registered colleagues. The flexible and varied nature of a joint appointment with ongoing learning and clinical credibility.


Enjoyable aspects of the job/role

  • The relationships that have developed between the people on my caseload and me.
  • The buzz when learning-exercises and presentations go particularly well.
  • The scope in the projects component to create new initiatives and innovations. It is particularly satisfying to see projects materialize from the initial ideas to have a powerful impact and benefit the lives of many people.


Important success factors

The faith and trust in me shown by my Director of Nursing and Operations Manager, providing a firm foundation for my success in this role. The Clinical Nurse Leadership Programme provided a powerful impetus to think and act as a leader and exposed me to some great local examples of leaders. Networking with colleagues across these islands and across the world continues to be a source of exciting learning and joyful friendship.


Advice for those considering the type of job/role?

  • Prior to taking up a joint appointment it is essential to clarify what the administrative and clerical support is to be. I believe it is very important to ensure that the arrangements are robust and satisfactory to the post-holder.
  • The position requires a flexible attitude towards the component responsibilities but sometimes being too flexible, fitting extra meetings and events on days not dedicated for them can be to the detriment of the overall role. Simply, as an example, try to complete all your clinical duties on the day or days set aside for these duties.
  • I believe that someone in a joint appointment can sometimes, in serving two or more masters, neglect their own career development. It is important therefore to continue to focus and refocus on a personal specialist area of practice or career pathway for one's self. In this regard the joint appointee should seek out more senior colleagues from both organizations to act in the role of mentors for each component of the joint appointment role.


Key skills that can be gained within this job/role?

This position has greatly enhanced my skills in facilitating the learning of others. Being creative in setting up learning exercises and thought provoking presentations is an area that has greatly developed. I am continuously involved with helping people change their practice and the area where they practice. I have therefore developed problem-solving skills and skills in facilitating others in solving their own practice problems. Working across many different and diverse teams I have learnt to collaborate and negotiate across differing cultures. The role has enabled me to think strategically, to lead others and to create innovations that would not have come about were it not for the harnessing of ingenuity with tenacity. I have consciously sought out the opportunity to put my leadership to work as the chair of project groups and committees and have gained skill and experience as a result.


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