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Courtney McCann

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  • Courtney McCann
  • Nursing Assistant, Mental Health, Bluestone Unit, Craigavon Are Hospital, Southern HSC Trust

What attracted you to become a Nursing Assistant?

I had applied to university to study adult nursing at 19 and was unsuccessful at interview. My aim was to take a year out from studying and work in the health care industry as a nursing assistant for some experience. I applied for a general nursing assistant post or so I thought. As fate would have it I was successful at securing a full time post as a mental health nursing assistant. I was nervous and apprehensive of this role as I thought it would not be for me. After my first day in my role I went home and told my mum I no longer wanted to be an adult nurse, and mental health nursing had stolen my heart. I had fallen in love with the role, the patient contact and the staff. We are like a big family.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I love the patient contact, and it is amazing being able to support someone at the darkest and most stressful time of their life. It brings you so much joy when you see those individuals go home. I enjoy the clinical aspect of nursing care such as taking bloods, and performing clinical observations. My passion at ward level is facilitating therapeutic groups to engage the patients in daily maintenance and distraction techniques that they can utilise at home. Being part of a team is absolutely amazing and my colleagues are a great support.

Tell us about your most memorable moment in your role.

I have so many moments it’s hard to choose. I think my most memorable moment was when I was working with an individual who had attempted suicide. She told me she had no hope for her life or future recovery. So I told her that I and the nursing staff would hold her hope for her until she was feeling more hopeful herself. She cried and said to me, ‘No one has ever done that for me before’.

How do you see your career developing as a Nursing Assistant?

Shortly after starting my post as a mental health nursing assistant I began a Level 3 QCF in Mental Health, to build my knowledge base and develop myself both professionally and personally .I felt this would help me deal with some of the situations I had now been faced with. Within 14 months of my post I was accepted onto the Open University Nursing programme. I am currently in my final year and I am due to become a Registered Mental Health Nurse in October 2019.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career as a Nursing Assistant?

I would say ‘Go for it’. The feeling you get in return for helping others outweighs any pay cheque. There are also so many opportunities to develop both personally, professionally and on an educational level. When I didn’t get into university at 19 I thought my future dream of becoming a nurse was over. Realistically, I now see that I was just meant to take a different path in life and 5 years after starting my post I am now going to be a nurse which has always been my dream; with no student loans!

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