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Adult or Mental Health Nursing

Im currently in year 12 doing A level Biology, Psychology and Sociology. Ive always wanted to be an adult nurse. However, Ive recently become very interested in mental health nursing. It is an area that really interests me and I like the idea of building solid relationships with patients. However, I have always been drawn to adult nursing because it is more flexible and I really want to do the practical side of nursing. I read that adult nurses can even perform minor surgeries which sounds amazing. I know that you can still do some practical nursing in mh nursing, however its less. I am also not fond of the idea of seeing lots of people in one day like in adult nursing because you cant form as strong relationships. Im really conflicted with which area to choose. I would do a dual degree however I want to go to the uni closest to me and it doesnt offer a dual degree sadly. Please help!
hi, i’m in my first year of adult nursing. i did the exact same a levels and i was also interested in mental health nursing. i’m currently on my first placement, where i work on a medium/large ward and have been able to interact with and build bonds with my patients already, despite having done only 5 shifts, and there being almost 20 patients. i am enjoying it, however i don’t know how my experience would compare to a student doing a mental health nursing course. if you have any questions just fire away :smile:
Reply 2
Original post by okayykayy
hi, i’m in my first year of adult nursing. i did the exact same a levels and i was also interested in mental health nursing. i’m currently on my first placement, where i work on a medium/large ward and have been able to interact with and build bonds with my patients already, despite having done only 5 shifts, and there being almost 20 patients. i am enjoying it, however i don’t know how my experience would compare to a student doing a mental health nursing course. if you have any questions just fire away :smile:


That sounds good! Has the degree been stressful so far? Also, did you do any work experience to get onto the course? Ive been a young leader in scouts, volunteered at a charity shop and have a part time job in a shop and I'm not sure if i need to get anymore. Thank you!
Original post by SianH12
That sounds good! Has the degree been stressful so far? Also, did you do any work experience to get onto the course? Ive been a young leader in scouts, volunteered at a charity shop and have a part time job in a shop and I'm not sure if i need to get anymore. Thank you!


i wouldn’t say it’s been necessarily stressful, so far we’ve finished 2 modules and have done a few assignments. placement is essentially an unpaid full time job so that has been the most stressful part. i didn’t have any relevant experience at all, except for doing an online introduction to nursing course
Original post by SianH12
It is an area that really interests me and I like the idea of building solid relationships with patients.


As an adult nurse, I build solid professional relationships with my patients - it's not just MH nursing that does this.

Original post by SianH12
I am also not fond of the idea of seeing lots of people in one day like in adult nursing because you cant form as strong relationships.

It depends on where you work.
A&E nurses - adult and MH - can see 30 patients in a day.
Community nurses - adult and MH - can see a lot of patients in a day.
On hospital wards, a 28 bed unit is typically split between 3-4 nurses and 3-4 HCAs. Depending on what they are admitted with, patients are often in hospital anything from 72 hours to many weeks. I've never discharged a whole ward and admitted another full ward in a day - or anywhere near that.

You really need to get some work experience in both areas. Nobody has to go to university straight from A levels; in fact, in nursing, a significant proportion of students are mature students (as in, aged 25+).
Take a gap year post A levels, get a job as a HCA at your local hospital (on a physical health or mental health ward), and see what you think of things from there.
Reply 5
Original post by SianH12
Im currently in year 12 doing A level Biology, Psychology and Sociology. Ive always wanted to be an adult nurse. However, Ive recently become very interested in mental health nursing. It is an area that really interests me and I like the idea of building solid relationships with patients. However, I have always been drawn to adult nursing because it is more flexible and I really want to do the practical side of nursing. I read that adult nurses can even perform minor surgeries which sounds amazing. I know that you can still do some practical nursing in mh nursing, however its less. I am also not fond of the idea of seeing lots of people in one day like in adult nursing because you cant form as strong relationships. Im really conflicted with which area to choose. I would do a dual degree however I want to go to the uni closest to me and it doesnt offer a dual degree sadly. Please help!


It depends what you mean by "practical nursing" - if this means clinical skills such as taking bloods, inserting NG tubes, carrying out ECGs etc., then mental health nursing students are now required by the NMC to undertake these skills, and registered MH nurses often carry out these skills on wards. I'm not sure where you have picked up that general nursing is more flexible than mental health, however that's widely untrue. Mental health nurses can practice in schools, in the community, in prisons, in wards, in care homes, in youth centres and in GP practices. There's endless opportunities for both nursing disciplines. There's old age psychiatry, general psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, CAMHS or substance misuse nursing. Overall, go with what you are more interested in. If you're interested in the medical side of things general nursing may be for you. MH nursing is often more mentally demanding as you'll be faced with a lot of aggression, challenging and complex behaviour, trauma backgrounds and self harm. General nursing can be quite repetitive in that you're doing IVs, infusion pumps, wound care day in and day out. In order to take part in surgeries that would likely come with a lot of experience in general nursing and career progression, a newly qualified band 5 nurse wouldn't be doing that.

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