“I’ve always wanted to understand more”

 Neil is a Mental Health Nurse, working at Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust as Service Line Lead for Acute Adult Services. Neil’s best friend growing up was always the “odd” kid at school and Neil later found out this was due to him having unspecified psychosis. His nan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and these early experiences left him wanting to understand more.  At school he mentored other children with autism and learning disabilities. He volunteered for Mind at 16 and became a support worker at 18. After gaining a degree in psychology and a Masters in Health Psychology, Neil moved to London with ambitions of becoming a Paediatrician. He began working as a Healthcare Assistant and it was then, that his manager suggested he train to become a Mental Health Nurse – Neil has never looked back! He said: “There are so many routes into nursing – both academic and by working your way up from a Healthcare Assistant. Once qualified, there are a huge variety of different careers paths you can follow, including research, clinical, operational and management – it is an all-encompassing profession.

“There is never a typical day, but as a nurse on the ward, I gained so much satisfaction from chatting to my patients and putting a smile on their faces. In my current role, I get satisfaction from doing my best to make sure our patients receive the right care, at the right time and in the best place.

Lots of people are surprised that I’m both a nurse and a man! I was one of four guys on my training course of 40 people. It’s great that we’re beginning to see more men coming through and I definitely think that public perception is changing and that it’s OK for men to be nurses. It’s such a fulfulling profession and I think nursing needs members of all sexes. Men and women see things differently and the strongest workforces are made up of the best of both and everything in the middle.  

“High quality nursing requires a whole heap of different skills and I’d advise those considering becoming a nurse to take all the opportunities that arise, so that you keep developing and getting stronger as an individual, up until the day you retire- nursing will always keep you on your toes!”