Nursing Week: Profile of Nicole Collins, mental health nurse

Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - 1:43pm

Tell us about yourself, Nicole Collins.                                        
I was born in Sydney, and raised in New Waterford, Cape Breton.

When I'm not working I am a full time homemaker who loves to garden and do yard work. I love spending time with my family. 

When I have some down time, I like reading or going for walks.

Why did you choose nursing?
My original career goal was to become a teacher. 

When I was 17 my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. When she became palliative my family and I took an active role in her care. One day while feeding her she whispered to me, "You would make an excellent nurse." This had a huge impact on me. For me, it was a sign that I was meant to be a nurse. 

Why did you choose mental health nursing?
During my initial clinical rotation I immediately gravitated toward my mental health practicum. 

From that rotation on I looked for every opportunity to choose electives that would return me to the mental health field. I have, and continue to enjoy, the investigative and problem solving aspect of identifying mental illness and developing an effective prognosis with my team.

Where did you go to school?
Initially I received my bachelor of science in biology from Saint Francis Xavier University (St.FX). I then went to the University of Windsor for a degree in criminology. I realized that criminology was not the direction I wanted to proceed, so I did not complete that degree. However during my time there I began to hone the investigative skills I still use while assessing mental illness. I returned to St.FX on the 'fast track' to my Bachelor of Nursing with an advanced major. 

How long have you been practicing nursing?
As of June 2014 I am proud to say I have spent my entire 12-year career in mental health.

What does your current position involve?
I have always been a strong advocate for our mental health clients. In my role, I look for  visual and verbal cues and gather information to determine the potential mental illnesses that may be affecting our clients. I then develop the best course of action to serve our client's care and well being. 

What is the most rewarding aspect of mental health nursing?
There are so many rewards. If I can educate a client of the benefits of taking his or her medication, console a family member, reduce stigma, or if I can learn something new which will enhance my practice - then I have achieved a goal for that day. 

What other areas of mental health nursing interest you?
I consider my position with Psychiatric Assessment my 'dream job'. At some point I would like to expand my mentoring experience to a larger educational role. I feel that nurses have a huge responsibility to educate upcoming generations, and I feel I have a lot to offer.