Character Illustration
Scrubs Icon

Kirsty McLaughlin – Mental Health Nursing student

Nursing & Midwifery

Kirsty McLaughlin is a 26-year-old student studying BSc Nursing Studies and specialising in Mental Health at Glasgow Caledonian University.

As part of her course she also attends placements – this year she is working in forensic services.

Kirsty considered a degree in nursing because she has always been caring and empathetic and wants to make a difference to people’s lives. What ultimately led her to apply for the course was her brother-in-law taking his own life. Kirsty has lived with anxiety herself and has been exposed to other mental illnesses through friends and family. But the death of a loved one due to a mental health condition was what spurred her on to try and help others.

Kirsty finds her course both challenging and rewarding, and it opens doors to a variety of different opportunities in health care.

She hopes to inspire young people into helping others on their journey to recovery.

“I want to help as many people as I possibly can and make a difference. Being a nurse is so rewarding and I love working with people throughout their recovery journey.

“I chose mental health because I have my own lived experience of anxiety as well as friends and family who have suffered a variety of mental health problems.

“At university we cover a variety of different modules throughout the degree. We look at things such as values, interprofessional team working, evidence-based practice as well as skills classes. In our latest skills classes, we are looking at psychosocial interventions such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.

“Whilst on placement a typical day can vary greatly, no two days are the same. Tasks covered every day range from medication rounds, escorted outings through low intensity interventions to multidisciplinary team meetings and writing up notes.

“The nursing bursary (which we are very lucky tohave) is increasing again next year and this will really help those that need to work part-time to make ends meet. Student nurses are required to undertake a minimum number of placement hours by the Nursing and Midwifery Council and on average we are on placement three times a year. Placements range from three weeks to 12 weeks in length. It’s important to take time for yourself when things are so busy, and so that’s why the bursary is such a big advantage to have.

Kirsty’s advice to anyone considering working in healthcare

“Attend as many open days as possible as there are numerous universities that offer nursing/midwifery courses and get chatting to staff and students at these. Each university will offer something a little different, for example Glasgow Caledonian’s simulation centre is second to none. Cali are very good when it comes to their open days and applicant events in that there are always students working at these events and available to talk to you. I have spoken with numerous prospective students at these events and the feedback we receive is always very positive.

“Deciding which field you want to specialise in may be challenging, but there are a lot of good websites that can help break this down for you. Volunteer roles are also available with organisations such as the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) for mental health and doing something like this could give an insight into the sort of work you may be doing. Alternatively gaining some work experience could help with this decision.

“Overall, I’d say nursing is such a rewarding profession and I truly love what I do. Helping others and supporting them on their journeys to recovery is an amazing thing to be able to do and I feel so privileged to be a part of it.”

Kirsty and fellow Mental Health Nursing student Colin share how their degree course gives them the opportunity to put the knowledge they learn in lectures directly into practical experience with patients.

Discover more routes into nursing here