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Mental health students presented with degrees

Students looking for a future in mental health nursing have celebrated the end of their hard work, graduating from the University of Suffolk and City College Norwich.

Among those graduating were students who completed a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Mental Health Nursing. They included Simon Sparrow who graduated from the BSc degree course and was asked to make the Vote of Thanks Speech at the graduation ceremony in Ipswich Town Hall – the first time a mental health nursing student has been given the honour.

Simon, who works on Lark Ward, a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Woodlands in Suffolk, said: “I spoke about my experiences as a student but made a point of talking about our mentors, the senior nurses within Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust who guide us during our placements.

“They really do shape a student’s nursing practice. They are often working under challenging conditions but the way they guide us is a real skill and I think they are often overlooked.”

The BSc graduates completed their degree in February and were then able to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council as mental health nurses.

Clinical Support Staff graduate with a Foundation Degree in Health Care Practice (Mental Health)

Thirty-two Foundation Degree students also graduated last month, from the University of Suffolk and City College Norwich.

Among them was Tracy Glass, who works at Cedar House, St Clement's Hospital, who said following the ceremony in Ipswich: “I was so proud of myself and all my fellow students.

“I never imagined I would go to university, especially this far into my career. I studied with a fantastic group of people and many will, I hope, remain close friends.

“Yes it was hard work but well worth it. I graduated six days before my 50th birthday which just goes to show you’re never too old.”

Also graduating from the Foundation Degree course was Raina Blade, a Substance Misuse Practitioner, who said: “Graduation was amazing. I never thought I would ever have that opportunity to experience it and I can’t stress enough how important this whole experience has been for me.

“I want to thank the Trust, my management and my colleagues for all their encouragement and support in helping me achieve this.

“I have continued to practice what I have learned throughout my role. It has enabled me to progress and grow within my area of work and am now working as a Substance Misuse Practitioner.”

Samantha Watson, Assistant Practitioner with the Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team (CRHT), added: “When I started the course I found it daunting, but having that final moment, dressed up in my graduation gown and walking across the stage to receive my certificate, was amazing and like no other experience I had ever had.

“It made all those stressful hair pulling moments worth it! It was a day never to forget for both myself and my family.”

The Foundation Degree qualification is the equivalent to the first 18 months of the Honours Degree, worth 240 credits.

They can now undertake Assistant Practitioner duties or, if they want to progress into the nursing profession, they can apply for the Nursing and Midwifery Council approved Work Based Learning (WBL) Pathway.

Tara Brown, a Modern Matron, East Suffolk Acute Services, who attended the ceremony in Ipswich, said: “One of the nice things Simon said during the graduation ceremony was how valuable his work placements have been during his degree and the efforts made by the mentors.”

For information on The Foundation Degree, the role of the Assistant Practitioner or the WBL pathway, please contact the Talent for Care Team.

For information about the BSc (Hons) Mental Health Nursing at the University of Suffolk, go to: