Ten Minutes with St Patrick’s Mental Health Services

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Lisa Douglas, a psychiatric nurse with St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, explains why her career in acute care is so rewarding


This article is sponsored by St Patrick’s as part of the ‘10 Minutes With…’ series.


How did you get started as a Registered Psychiatric Nurse?

I qualified academically through Trinity College Dublin and applied to work in St Patrick’s Mental Health Services as a registered psychiatric nurse. Following successful completion of interview, I started working on the Temple ward which provides holistic care for service users with addiction and dual diagnoses. This was a brilliant learning experience and greatly contributed to my clinical development as I did not get the opportunity to work in addiction services during my training in the HSE.


Why did you choose to work with St Patrick’s Mental Health Services?

I chose St Patrick’s Mental Health Services as it is grounded in human rights principles and has a very good reputation nationally as one of the leading providers of mental healthcare in Ireland. Following researching of its services, and from speaking with friends who were working there, it was evident that they provided nurses with significant opportunities to work across different specialties, including therapeutic programmes, acute care, eating disorders, addiction, anxiety and adolescent mental health. Additionally, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services offers competitive salaries and has significant opportunities for postgraduate education, study leave and career progression. It is also an organisation that consistently performs well in Mental Health Commission inspections.


What are you working on at present?

I am currently working as a registered psychiatric nurse on the acute care ward – Dean Swift. Working on this ward has given me fantastic and invaluable experience in acute care. It has given me experience working with people that require acute mental healthcare, such as those presenting with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, suicidal ideation, eating disorders and personality disorders, and has allowed me to significantly develop my nursing skills. I work with a fantastic team of proactive young staff and a management team who are compassionate and supportive of staff.


What is the best part of your job?

The best part of the job is that every day is different. It is an extremely rewarding career as you are caring for people who are in need of compassion and support. I think that knowing you can make a difference in the lives of service users is a wonderful part of the job. Seeing improvements and small changes in service users as they work towards their recovery and respond positively to their treatment is incredibly rewarding as a nurse. Through its therapeutic range of treatments, programmes and facilities, SPMHS aims to provide its service users with the best possible outcomes. This environment of providing holistic care reinforces a culture of positivity among nursing staff.


What is a defining career moment or high point?

A defining moment of my career was pursuing my Master’s degree in Leadership and Innovation in Healthcare through Royal College of Surgeons, which was funded by SPMHS. I have some fantastic mentors within the organisation who have encouraged me to make the most of my career and keep my options open for future opportunities. I hope in five years to get into working with management at ward level and possibly further afield.


What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve received?

Psychiatric nursing provides an opportunity to work across a range of different specialties as you progress through your nursing career. My advice is to do your best to grasp every opportunity that may come your way. Every venture is a learning opportunity which develops you as a person, as well as contributing to your career development.


If you could go back in time and give yourself a piece of advice at the start of your career, what would that be?

Never be afraid to ask questions. People don’t expect you to know everything. Be compassionate with yourself and remember that you are still learning. Nurture your curious mind and don’t be afraid to speak up.


What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about interviewing for this position?

St Patrick’s Mental Health Services is a fantastic organisation to start or grow your nursing career as it provides nurses with experience in many different specialist areas. You can also be moved to different specialist areas that you have a particular interest in. If you are interviewing for a nursing position in SPMHS, I would advise potential candidates to familiarise themselves with the organisation’s strategy ‘Changing Minds. Changing Lives’ and our recent performances reported by the Mental Health Commission.


What would you say are the key skills and capabilities necessary to be good at what you do?

An excellent nurse is a good listener and communicator. They have a strong work ethic, are a team player and practise reflection regularly.


What is the best career lesson you have learned so far?

Every day is a school day.


Which industry professionals should people be following on Twitter/ LinkedIn?

John Creedon (SPMHS), Michelle Madden (SPMHS), Dr. Brian Keogh (TCD), Colman Noctor (WIT), Aine McHugh (DKIT), Shane Kirwan (SMPHS).


Is there a particular book or resource you’d recommend to someone early in their career?

The Everything New Nurse Book by Kathy Quan and MAKE YOUR BED by William H. McRaven.


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