What has been your most memorable moment during your career in nursing?
I started my career in Forensic Nursing and Challenging Behaviour and moved from in-patients to community nursing after 2 years. My most memorable moment was working with an elderly couple with learning disabilities; they were brother and sister, and lived semi independently. They were referred to me after numerous complaints from their Domiciliary Care team of difficult and aggressive behaviours. Assessment indicated a number of issues including environment, communication, lack of understanding of learning disability and a basic lack of respect for the couple for who they were as individuals. The team supporting them really weren’t capable of effectively meeting their needs. It took nearly a year of work but eventually we identified a new service who were experienced in Learning Disabilities and put in place a new team who I trained on the specific needs of this couple. Within weeks of the new service starting the couple were more active in the community, attending their day centre regularly, making choices about their routine, meals and activities, presenting as clean, well turned out and ultimately were happy, valued and engaged individuals. And follow-up assessment indicated no challenging behaviours what so ever. My proudest moment in terms of being able to changes someone’s life for the better – and a reminder that if you believe in something. You should fight for it. Never lose sight of the patient in anything that you do.
That it offers such diverse career opportunities. I have worked in the public sector, the voluntary sector and the private sector, from a “D Grade to a Band 8a . I have taken as many of the opportunities offered to me as I possibly could and these have resulted in roles ranging from forensic learning disabilities to acute mental health, to children’s nursing, to training, to recruitment and now to digital technology where I am advising on Nurse Recruitment and am involved in developing systems, testing applications, digital marketing and promotion and business development. And while I may have made some mistakes along the way, and worked in areas that ultimately weren’t for me, I have never regretted any of those experiences. All of these experiences have made me the nurse I am today. Everywhere I worked I learned something new and useful, met someone inspiring, or found a route to another new and exciting opportunity. Nursing is an exciting career and you don’t have to decide today what you want to be or where you want to go. Just be open and be interested. Who knows where you’ll end up.
What do you value most about nursing?
That you can’t go wrong. You can start your career in a specific area, develop your clinical expertise and move through a traditional career pathway. Or you can start your career in one area and move through a variety of different areas to develop different skills and experiences. You can focus on becoming an expert practitioner or you can take opportunities to diversify in to other areas. You can travel the world – volunteer in Africa, work on a cruise ship, find employment in a hospital in Australia. There are roles in sales, pharmacology, training, tech, private sector, public sector – and whatever you do, you know you are making a difference, whether that is on the front line or in the back office. I loved my clinical roles – making a difference for my patients. I loved my role in recruitment – finding the right job for the right person and supporting them in their nursing career. And now I love my job in tech – working to manage issues in the technicalities of nurse recruitment and how we can revolutionise this to everyone’s benefit – and all the places it takes me along the way.
What motivates you to stay in this area of nursing practice?
Because, like most nurses, it’s all about making a difference. If I can work to improve the process of nurse recruitment; to make it faster and more efficient, then I can make a difference to someone’s life. There may be a number of steps in between the start and the end goal, but ultimately that is what it’s all about, and always has been for me. From the beginning of my career when it was directly focused on improving the life of the patient and their family, to this role, where the difference on an individual is more difficult to see, but in the long term, the end result will be a positive outcome, all I have ever wanted to do is to make a difference.
What would you say to someone considering a career in nursing?
Go for it. You never know where you’ll end up – but it won’t be boring, and whatever you do, you will make a difference.