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Starting a university course and moving to a new town is a daunting experience – but one that is so exciting too. I am currently a third year Mental Health Nursing student at BU. I applied when I was in sixth form for deferred entry for the following year as I knew I wanted to take a gap year to travel before starting uni. I had no experience working in mental health; it was something I was interested in and wanted to explore. I have now developed such a passion for it through the course that I have recently been offered a job at Broadmoor Hospital for next year when I am qualified!

The course itself is 50% theory, 50% placements, which equates to 2/3 placements per year ranging from 5-13 weeks long. You learn on the job on placement, and can be placed in a variety of settings such as community, inpatient treatment, acute admissions, dementia, or specialist areas such as CAMHS, rehab, and eating disorders units. On the theory side, we undertake 6 units per year, most of which are done in a seminar format where we can discuss different topics. We are usually timetabled 37 ½ hours per week, however some of this is ‘Self Managed Learning’ where you can do your assignments or reading from home Image of Francesca and friend outside a hospitalor in the library (preferably in the library to avoid the accidental nap). The class is made up of people of differing ages (we have people who came straight from school, different degrees and different careers), from different backgrounds, with different levels of experience in healthcare or mental health.

My Worst Experience: You will all go through the ‘second year burn out’ where everyone is a bit dramatic and thinks they can’t complete the course – mainly because people realise they will actually be a fully fledged nurse the following year! I experienced this and told myself that if I didn’t enjoy my next placement then I would just have to drop out (!). Of course, this ended up being my best placement yet and it rebooted my love for mental health and why I want to qualify, and I am yet to doubt my ability to continue with the next 9 months in order to graduate again.

My Best Experience: I have recently returned from a placement abroad – I could not turn down this opportunity – BU work with a company called Work the World who offer healthcare placements in various locations. Myself and one course mate went to the Philippines for 5 weeks, while the rest of our class had a placement in the UK. We stayed in the Work the World house with other healthcare students, and had the opportunity to work on the psychiatric ward, emergency room, delivery room, and in a rural vaccination clinic. In between weekday shifts, we got to travel the surrounding areas and islands; the trip was definitely work hard, play hard! This was honestly one of the best things I have ever done – even though I questioned whether I ever wanted children after spending time in the delivery room… Although cuddling the newborns could have changed my mind again!!

Bournemouth Uni is a lovely place to study nursing. We are on the healthcare campus close to the town centre and beach. It’s an easy location from halls of residence, housing areas, and the train/bus station, so we have students who commute in from further away locations. We have support networks not just from the uni, such as course leaders and other university staff, but you will make such good friends with your course mates that you will always have people to support you through anything – from assignments to how to deal with a hangover at a 9am lecture. Nurses are a friendly bunch and you will have made lifelong friends and co-workers at the Image of Francesca holding a babyend of the 3 years.

I could not imagine spending my time at university in any other town or city. I have absolutely loved my time in Bournemouth and am definitely going to miss being a student here next year!

Francesca, 3rd year Mental Health Nursing student

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