Psychology and Sociology graduate Katie Fida shares her story

My name is Katie, I am 25 years old and I studied BSc Psychology and Sociology at University Centre South Essex from 2017 to 2020 and this is my story.

Before coming to the university centre, I completed one year of an adult nursing degree; however, it just didn’t feel 100% right. So, I wanted a career change, I decided to enrol on an Access to Counselling course, which I completed with a Distinction, and then that lead me to the Psychology and Sociology degree. Alongside my college course I worked in healthcare as a Health Care Assistant in hospitals and care homes.  I then got a job working in a Psychiatric hospital whilst studying on my degree, which fuelled my desire to work in the field of psychology. 

I finally was able to marry my wife in August, after it was cancelled in July, then I started a master’s in Psychology in September 2020, which I am due to finish in August 2021.

I am currently working in a Psychiatric hospital, on a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit. My job entails ensuring the safety of those suffering from severe mental health disorders (at a point of crisis), who have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act. It is my job to observe their mental state daily and report this, carry out enhanced observations to minimise potential risk they pose to themselves or others. I carry out risk assessments, ward rounds, liaise with family members and the MDT. I also assist with care plan writing, verbally de-escalate patients when they are in crisis and carry out CBT skills coaching sessions.  

I started working on the Personality Disorder ward, then I carried out CPD training within the company I work. I now work with patients with Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Psychosis and other severe mental health conditions. I employed my knowledge and skills from the degree into my work also. 

I chose this university because I was drawn to the class room style lectures, where more conversation and debates could take place, as I feel this is a brilliant way to learn as opposed to huge lecture theatres.

It has helped massively with my understanding of a lot of social and psychological dilemmas that people may be in. It has also helped me with critical thinking when in crisis situations. It helped me prepare for my Master’s, the progression from degree level 6 work, to master’s level 7 work felt almost natural. A lot of what I learned on my degree I am now expanding on in my master’s, and I don’t think I would have such a great understanding if I had never completed the degree that I did. 

I gained critical thinking skills, communication, I learned how to use SPSS which is paramount for the profession I seek to be in. I have the skills to write an academic piece of work, which has helped my report writing skills in my current job role. I also learned presentation skills, which has helped me with the confidence of speaking in front of others in a formal manner. This has helped when I have carried out handovers and ward rounds in my current role and have also helped with my masters. 
I used SPSS at the university, which I am very grateful for, as I use this a lot in my master’s now, and will use it many times throughout my career, so that software is the exact same as I am using now and in the future, which is excellent. 

My favourite memory would be the trip we all took to the Bethlam Mental Health Hospital, we got to look through the archive hospital records which we were all absolutely glued to. It was very fascinating and great insight. But I also just have so many brilliant memories from the lectures, being able to chat in depth as a group about the topics, I learned a lot through the conversations. 

I would recommend it because I feel smaller learning groups are an excellent way to build confidence and to really get engaged with the topics you learn. The tutors are very helpful and the smaller class groups means you can have more one to one conversation with the lecturers. It is also in an excellent location. 
My greatest achievement I would say is getting a First class on my dissertation, and then winning an outstanding student award. I have also recently received a Distinction on my master’s Psychology exam. 

After completion of my master’s I hope to progress in the company I am currently in, to an assistant psychologist, and then I will be applying for a Doctorate. I hope to work as a Clinical or Forensic psychologist. I also hope to be a good role model to my daughter, as a single parent it has not been easy studying and working, but I hope it finally pays off and that I can give her a nice life, whilst also working in my dream career.

The university centre really helped with my confidence, especially my academic confidence and to believe that pursuing my aspirations may actually be achievable.
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