Student: Chris

Chris is a nursing student from the University of Wollongong who attended Recovery Camp in May 2018. 

Here, Chris talks about his experience at Recovery Camp.

I decided I would like to participate in Recovery Camp because I wanted to learn more about the concept of personal recovery, and what that means to people with a lived experience of mental illness. At the commencement of this placement I struggled to negotiate professional boundaries and my role as a student nurse on placement, in that I was concerned about talking to the volunteers about their experiences – as if it was a taboo topic or I might say the wrong thing!

Throughout the camp I was challenged by my facilitator to communicate with volunteers which improved my ability to connect with individuals with a lived experience of mental illness. This encouragement, from my facilitator enabled me to develop my skill in rapport building and empathetic listening.

An unexpected lesson I learnt from Recovery Camp was the importance of some of the basic nursing communication practices which have been embedded throughout the degree and that I can use in other areas of my nursing practice e.g. calling people/patients by their name and not bed number, as well as involving people/patients during clinical handover and not labeling them by their diagnosis. These were all things highlighted by the camp volunteers as being important to them whilst being patients in the acute care setting.

No matter which area of nursing I eventually end up in after graduation, I will transfer the experiences and the lessons learnt from Recovery Camp into any clinical setting and I cannot thank the volunteers enough for sharing their stories.

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