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Congratulations on your offer to study with us! We hope we'll get to meet you soon, but in the meantime, we wanted to give you the chance to get to know one of our members of staff.

We chatted with Rob Allison, Senior Lecturer in Mental Health, and Subject Lead for Nursing. Rob has extensive clinical experience in a variety of settings as a Mental Health Nurse. His specialisms include people and families who experience psychosis.

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It only took half an hour!

I started working in a nursing home in my early twenties. To be honest, I took the job because I desperately needed one. I wasn’t expecting to like doing it, and so I surprised myself within half an hour when I found I loved it! Instinctively, I somehow knew that I wanted to do this for a career.

I chose nursing because of the influences around me. I used to talk to the nurses and ask questions about how they worked. Quite simply, I loved the feeling of helping someone and making a difference. It was also fun to get to know the patients and talk about fascinating life stories.

Why are we the way we are?

For as long as I can remember, I've found it interesting to try to understand why we all behave in different ways. I saw Mental Health Nursing as a good opportunity to explore the questions that fascinated me. 

I’ve also always wanted to help people manage their mental health struggles. I’m proud that I had the integrity to stand up for what I believed in when I was in clinical practice. My intentions were to always benefit patient care and do what was right. This sometimes meant challenging consultant psychiatrists and senior clinicians.

Voice hearing has been my passion

Once I started working at York, I knew straight away that I wanted to build a career in academia. I loved clinical practice, but I was ready for a new challenge. 

I recently completed a part-time PhD exploring coercion in voice hearing: why is it that people hear voices and experience unusual beliefs? I was always fascinated by these concepts, so a lot of my clinical work tries to help people who struggle with this.

The aim of my PhD was to try to improve the patient experience while they are in treatment settings, and the ability of practitioners to provide meaningful support for voice hearers. I've also developed a theory to help explain voice-hearing experiences.

We deliver workshops 

A colleague and I run a short professional development course: ‘Voice Dialogue: Talking with Voices’. We deliver workshops to clinicians and patients to better understand voice hearing. This is something that I’m enthusiastic about and enjoy doing. I’m also proud of trying to help bring people with lived experience into teaching, so they have their own voice in nursing education. 

I try to transfer a little bit of the work we do into the undergraduate nursing course. I want to help student nurses have a better understanding of voice hearing and psychosis.

My practice has shaped my values 

Without doubt, my Mental Health Nursing background has informed my teaching. My focus has always been on understanding the reasons behind people’s actions. This has transferred into my approach to education. I want to help students be compassionate, and understand that you shouldn’t judge anyone based on behaviours alone.

When I first started working as a lecturer in Nursing, I very much relied on my clinical experiences. As I became more experienced in my teaching role, I developed my ability to become a better educator. 

It's all about finding a balance

We’re really excited about the Nursing course, as we’ve made a great effort to incorporate our world-class research. We have also integrated mental health education across all the modules. This helps non-mental health students gain knowledge and confidence of the subject. 

We have a good relationship with the local NHS Trust, maintaining joint staff appointments between the University and York Hospital. These members of staff work in practice for half the week, and teach on the Nursing course as well. They help to connect what the students learn with how they apply that into practice. The clinical simulation unit also helps students to apply their theoretical knowledge and polish their skills.

Join our community

Giving students a balanced university experience is important to us. We want our students to engage with our advanced curriculum, and have time to take advantage of wider opportunities. We also appreciate that student nurses work hard to earn their degree. So, we put a lot of energy into good student engagement and support. Our dedicated Student and Academic Support Service (SASS) plays a big role in that.

Everyone who joins us becomes part of our community. We have high expectations, so we’re proud that we have excellent students who go out and make an impact on practice areas. If you have any questions about the course, the team and I are more than happy to help out!