Tony Gillam graduates from the University of Worcester today with an MSc in Advancing Practice.
Since initially graduating from Bangor University in 1983 with a degree in English and French, Tony’s career, both academic and professional, has been richly textured and fascinatingly diverse.
On leaving Bangor in the 1980s, Tony trained as a mental health nurse at Shelton Hospital in Shrewsbury for three years. This might seem like a big leap - an arts graduate immediately moving in to healthcare, but as Tony explains: “Many people arrive in to this profession via a circuitous route. I imagine it’s unusual for school children to say, ‘when I grow up, I want to be a mental health nurse’. I think my studies in languages and literature are, in reality, a tremendous help in my professional life. Mental health nursing is often about trying to understand different world views, empathising with people with a wide range of different experiences, and helping them to understand and interpret thoughts and feelings which are difficult to express.”
During his 30 year career, Tony, 54, has constantly striven to enrich his learning and develop his practice; combining work as a freelance writer, visiting lecturer, and trainer, with his day-job. In 2001, he published his first book - Reflections on Community Psychiatric Nursing.
With such a rich and varied professional portfolio, why did Tony choose to return to university some three decades after his last graduation to complete a masters? “The modular nature of the course at Worcester really appealed to me,” he said. “I started out studying for a specific module that I thought would help me at work, and then just kept going.”
“It was tough at times to fit everything in, but I’ve had lots of experience combining my job as a mental health nurse with my other commitments. It did take up a lot of weekends and a fair amount of annual leave, but it was worth it.”
Tony is the Clinical Manager for Worcestershire’s Early Intervention Service, a writer, lecturer, and now a Master of Science