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Paul McGowan

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  • Paul McGowan
  • Staff Nurse

What has been your most memorable moment during your career in nursing Children?

As a mature student I began my nursing career later in life and so I am still in the early stages. However there have been a few moments so far that for me were very memorable. Simply graduating with my nursing degree was amazing. I felt such a sense of achievement and pride, all of the hard work had paid off and I not only received a degree but a professional qualification as well. I also had a feeling of belonging and I was proud to say that I am a fully registered Children’s Nurse! In my current role as a staff nurse in PICU the most memorable and rewarding moments have to be when the person you are looking after is well enough to be discharged to the ward. But not only that, it is amazing when they call back up with their parents to the unit before they are discharged home to say thank you. It is very humbling and rewarding. You look after the sickest children in Northern Ireland and the vast majority of the time they make a full recovery and you get to be a part of that.  Being able to help children and their family through the tough times is very rewarding and challenging and always creates memorable moments.

What do you value most about nursing Children?

I value the care and attention to detail that I provide when nursing children. I value the dignity, respect, and advocacy that I provide when caring for children and their families. I love being able to help people at their most vulnerable moments and through the tough times. I love nursing children because they are so resilient and funny. I really value the care that I give to the children and their families. Being a father of four children, I naturally get on well with children and can associate well with them. This also helps me to empathise better with the families.

What motivates you to stay in this area of nursing practice?

I love learning new things, working with numbers, and in a controlled environment. Nursing in PICU is a dynamic and ever changing area of practice. The learning opportunities are excellent and the experiences you get are almost limitless. There are excellent training opportunities and lots of room for progression, particularly with the advent of the new children’s hospital which is due to start construction soon. There are great opportunities to learn new skills such as Transport nurse, CVVH, and different modes of ventilation. Every day is a new opportunity to learn something new! But most importantly, working as part of an amazing team is so motivating. The PICU team is second to none and everyone works really well together, we are like a family and I think this is a very important factor for any work environment. 

What would you say to someone considering a career in nursing Children?

I would say absolutely go for it! It’s a brilliant, challenging and rewarding career. There are many different career avenues to pursue. I decided to begin my career in nursing when I was 33 years old. Before this I had been working in retail since the age of 18 and obtained a degree in Marine Biology. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go with my career. However retail wasn’t for me and from my own personal point of view it just wasn’t challenging or rewarding enough for me. So I had a look at different careers and seen nursing. After reading more about it, I thought that this would be great for me. I had transferable skills from working in retail (dealing with the public every day) and Nursing seemed to provide the challenge and rewards that I had been looking for. From the off-set I knew that I wanted to nurse Children and Young people as I have a family of my own. My youngest child was born the day after I started the Nursing degree. It was a challenge to try and juggle academic work, placements, a part-time job, looking after my family, and the day to day running of the house. However with support from my family, and grit determination I was able to achieve my goal. So, if I can do it, anyone can. My words of wisdom would be to go for it, put the work in, ask questions and reap the rewards at the end. Nursing is an amazing career with lots of opportunities; I actually couldn’t recommend it enough! And I would absolutely encourage more men to consider a career in nursing children, we are severely under-represented in this area and men make great nurses too! 


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