Mental health nurse look for a career

I am currently about 6 months from finishing my nursing course and I am looking at joining up as an RMN.
I have had the literature from the QARNC recuiting team through the post and was wondering if there are any RMN's that would be able to provide me with a little insight into life as a RMN from the shop floor.
issues like resources, common mental health issues, pay, conditions etc.
I have had a search of the site and found a few helpful bits of info, but I am also torn between the Army and the RAF for my career, having lived near a RAF base for many years, but having a family history of my Father and Grandfather were Royal engineers.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
I am not an RMN. However, i do know quite a few and have worked in fairly close proximity to them over the years.

My impressions are that they are few in number and busier than ever (alcohol, PTSD, etc)

Good guys and girls!

RAF wise...(dont rule it out)...

Pay is rank-related (currently no clinical speciaility pay spine, and i believe no plans for one in Mental Health Nursing).

The RAF Nursing branch (PMRAFNS) has lost time promotion to Sgt, but if you are a Qualified RMN on entry into the Service, you assume Acting Corporal rank until you either get it taken off you because you are not 'up to it' or you get selected for promotion on merit, having made Substantive Cpl first of course!

Pay rates are promulgated on the 'RAF Community website' and are reasonable, but the difference over NHS equivalents is diminishing and if you factor in regular deployments....blah, blah...its getting more difficult to hold on to good people.

I should point out...I am not a trained recruiter....say take the above with the compulsory 'pinch of salt'!

Good luck with the rest of your course!
see PM
For God's sake, get a couple (or preferably more) years post-Reg experience and go for a commission.

Who wants to be a responsible healthcare professional one minute - then treated like dog-doo the next because you're only a A/Cpl?

And if you are dead set on joining up now - think about the airforce. At least we treat our ORs like human beings.
Khakicrab has hit the nail on the head there!

Having said that, 2 years is a long time to have to wait...surviving on a meagre NHS salary, with debt (likely) from Bursary days!

The alternative is to join as an OR, consolidate you're training, get paid a half-decent salary and start to prepare for the OASC visit. If you've got the attributes for Commission you'll make it...Its the only real option once eligible as promotion in the ranks is literally non-existent, unfortunately.

Good luck.
Thanks for the replies,
yes some debt! but it goes with the being a poor student!
If I were to wait for 2 years I would be joining at 29/ 30 ish would I be at a significant disadvantage ? or not
If you are torn between the Army and the RAF, choose the RAF.

Easier life, and if you're not dedicated to green, bivvying under canvas (or the stars!) gets mighty tough when you know you could be in a hotel.

Just my (biassed) 2 cents.
b.d.h said:
If I were to wait for 2 years I would be joining at 29/ 30 ish would I be at a significant disadvantage ? or not
I was 29/30-ish when I went Regular (having been TA) and now I'm an OF3. If you have aspirations to be DANS/DNS one day then it might be an issue, but purely one of time. I probably don't have the years in me to make DNS - but that's probably all to the good and benefit of everyone else :twisted:
Whichever service you decide on I would strongly say go for it.

I actually left the army in 77 to train as an RMN, I tried to transfer to the RAMC but I was only offered EN training, which they only offered after I'd re-done my basic training for the 3rd time, cnuts, so I RTU'ed to REME and a year later was a student nurse; and still going strong 30 years on.

My one regret is that I didn't re-enlist subsequent to qualification, and whilst I wouldn't imagine that nursing in the services is without it's frustrations I doubt it can compare with our 3rd world care in the community for everyone current NHS.
As a TA RMN with operational experience I would advise you to do at least a year in the NHS first before you join. If you go straight in you'll miss out on the acute psych experiences as a qualified nurse (as oppesed to as a student) that I would have said are pretty much essential to give you a broad grounding as an RMN.

You need to remember that with the best will in the world defence psychiatry is really an occupational health function (though very important, I'm not belittling it in any way) and that anybody with a severe (as in Section-ably psychotic/bipolar/depressed type illnesses) will almost certainly end up being discharged, meaning that you won't get to nurse them (sure you are aware that inpatient care is, for some crazy reason, done by Priory Healthcare). What you do get with the DCMHs is a lot of very skilled therapeutic input at a generally lower level of risk (as an acute inpatient and Crisis Resolution team nurse the levels of risk, as a general rule, I worked with were higher than that which were dealt with on a deployment) than an NHS CPN would deal with routinely.

What military psych nursing does offer you is a very good route into CBT type therapeutic work, but if you then decide to leave and go to the NHS or private sector you may then struggle to get a job commensurate with your experience as you won't have any acute inpatient experience (still seen as the proving ground for your skills by the NHS), unless you want to pursue a more psychological therapy type career. If you do want to follow a more therapeutic path then defence psychiatry is a very good route to take.

Put simply there are advantages and disadvantages to both paths but personally I would advise you to get at least a year of acute inpatient experience with the NHS first and then join, whether as an Officer or not.

Hope this makes sense, but good luck whatever you decide to do!
Thanks for they replies every one.
Just a few more question!
Would my nearly 10 years experience as a nursing assistant on Acute wards and a B.A hon's Degree in Film be at all helpful if I were to join up? (Thought a Arts based degree would be great for getting jobs....... its not...oh the folly of youth)
Also deployments as RMN , are they based on large bases or go out to asses people in a role similar to a CPN in the field?
The theraputic rout is one that I was looking at as I feel it would set me up for the future, what is the real availiblity of doing courses like CBT etc in the Army?
I've done several tour's with our glorious Army in their field hospitals.
I'm not an RMN and on those tour's i was a bit busy, so not exactly watching their every move.....

I think they were based in the hospitals in a 'clinic' setup with 'rounds', where they went to visit sections (staff) aswell as patients on a ward. Current Op's see them based 'behind the wire' for sure. Who'd want it any other way??!!

10 yrs as an HCA and an Arts show's you've been in a clinical area which is good as it shows you're unlikely to be afraid of hard work or the sight of blood! The degree shows to an extent that you can study at that level, so you're unlikely to drop out 'cos of this.
Movement around theatre by FMHT staff is dependent on such factors as the distribution of units, availability of transport and clinical need. In Afghanistan, I know for a fact that the last FMHT spent a lot of time out on the ground. One of them got stuck at Kajaki Dam for two weeks!
Deployments (I was on Herrick last year) are now in CPN role. The expectation is that the RMNs travel round theatre assessing troops in their locations. The CPNs are based within Primary Health and are part of the Close Support Med Sqn rather than the hospital (though clearly we'd see patients in the hospital if needed)

However due to transport constraints (ie we aren't high priority self loading freight) if operational tempo is high you'll struggle to get anywhere except KAF. After the a similar episode to the Kajaki one mentioned above (10 days this time, but somewhere different)with the preceding FMHT our boss stopped us going anywhere forward of the larger bases, ie Lash and Gereshk. Even then I spent 10 days trying to get to Lash and never managed to get on the airframe despite intervention from the Lt Col psychologist we had with us! There were only a couple of us and it isn't good use of what is seen as a theatre asset to have 50% of it stuck at a remote FOB for a fortnight. We were very, very busy (3 times busier than the preceding FMHT in terms of referrals) and we simply couldn't have functioned effectively if that had happened.

That said, we spent as much time outside Bastion as we were able to.

As I said there's very little acute inpatient work within the DMS now, apart from the Wegburg unit (I think, if it hasn't already gone). All the UK and deployed provision is in the form of Community (or Field) Mental Health teams. The DMS is generally very supportive of CBT training as it's the main treatment for PTSD type disorders. Some of the very best CBT practitioners I've seen work within the DCMHs.

It may be worth you making contact to see if there's any possibility of a placement with one of them. I did this when I was a nursing student (extra on top of my other placements, did it as TA camp, but still submitted it as part of my portfolio) and it was very useful indeed.
Is there anyone who would be able to facilitate a placement ? I have spoken to the QARANC phone line people and they informed me that it was not possible due to staff being over stretched, or some kind of day of a few days visit I would be very thankful.
I have spent a lot of time acute nursing as a nursing assistant, and I now feel that community nursing is more of the path I would like to follow.
Are there oppertunities for newly qualified nurses to get jobs with the Army?

many thanks again for the replies.
still that doesn't stop him from responding if he did. Unless he is dead.
To my understanding you are the one who is thick, you are keyboard happy are you?

Latest Threads