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Senior Staff Nurse, Mental Health

Clinical Practice
Career Pathway

Career Directions

  • Clinical Practice
  • Public Health
  • Quality Improvement
  • Education
  • Management
  • Policy/Strategy Development

Area of Practice

  • Adult Nursing
  • Mental Health Nursing


  • Independent/Voluntary Sector

Job/Role Summary

Offering care and treatment to patients who suffer from a chemical addiction. Acting Up in the absence of the Ward Manager. Participation as a member of a multi-disciplinary team to plan, deliver and evaluate care provision. Education of patients through motivational counselling as to the effects of chemical addiction on a physical, psychological and social level. Ensure quality and safety of care through clinical governance.


Specific qualifications and experience required

Essential criteria: Registered Mental Health Nurse, 2 years' experience post registration of working at senior staff nurse level, one of which must be in addiction services, Good health record, Good communication skills. Desirable criteria: Experience of psychotherapies, counselling and motivation techniques.


Career Milestones

A career move in 2001 from general psychiatry to addictions was a significant factor for me. I believe I found an area of nursing I began to enjoy more than any other area I had worked in previously. I became aware that I had developed the skills and knowledge I needed to relate to this particular client group. Previously I had worked in general nursing as an Enrolled Nurse in oncology, rehabilitation and orthopaedics and then completed training for registration in the country I was working in and outside the UK. On my return to Northern Ireland a few years ago I spent time as an agency nurse and as a community psychiatric nurse travelling all over the province. All of these job positions have moulded me for an area of nursing I now find gives me much personal satisfaction, as I enjoy the challenge of helping people whose lives become chaotic through alcohol and drugs. This experience has given me the opportunity to develop skills in the clinical area as well as the arena of public presentation. Some of my skills have been gleaned from my interests, hobbies and life experience translating them for their purpose within my role.


What attracted you to this job?

I was looking for a job that would give me greater job satisfaction. It provided an new challenge. It gave me an opportunity to look into the area of motivation particularly for patients who find life in general difficult


Enjoyable aspects of the job/role

Participating in health promotion and education with clients and their relatives. Working as a part of a committed team of professionals. Seeing clients in recovery enjoying a quality of life that they have not known for sometime


Important success factors

A supportive and understanding line manager who is sensitive to the needs of his staff. Clinical supervision sessions. Working in a culture of openness and non-blame i.e. promoting and putting clinical supervision into practise


Advice for those considering the type of job/role?

You should be willing to learn new knowledge and skills and get involved with clinical supervision to help you in this. You should also seek formal qualifications in this specialty, as this study will help your practice and ability to help others. You should be prepared to take a non judgemental attitude to clients and relatives. You should develop a good grasp of your Trust's policies in particular those around vulnerable adults and child protection issues. You should develop clinical skills such as venepuncture and knowledge on detoxification techniques in the clinical setting. It would help you to have an interest in the field of chemical addictions and their treatment.


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

Greater understanding of the treatment and care of people with chemical addictions. Counselling and motivational skills. Improved communication skills through the experience of motivational interviewing. Greater awareness of verbal and non-verbal body communication. People management skills. Awareness of myself. Greater insight with clients who have a dual diagnosis i.e. those who have an addiction and a mental illness. Skills in team working in a positive environment. Greater confidence in presenting to a group of people.


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