When did you decide that mental health nursing was the career path you wished to follow?
In 2003, I took up a summer job as a Bank nursing assistant to save up for a degree in Politics and History (thinking that I would go on to teach History). I started out believing (or perhaps hoping against hope) that a nursing assistant did the filing so you can imagine my consternation when, as a somewhat naive and mildly prudish 17 year old I was faced with giving an elderly lady a bath. Anyway, after I got over the shock of what I was doing I grew to really enjoy getting to know the patients and engaging with them. I worked in Learning Disability Services in Loch View and became interested in mental illness. It was from there that I left to start my nurse training in 2005 and now here I am. Not a history teacher and loving it!
You have had a fairly rapid promotion through the NHS and must be one of our youngest Senior Charge Nurses – what is your secret?
I was fortunate enough to get a place on the Early Clinical Careers Fellowship with NES and this boosted my skills and knowledge no end, as well as ensuring I got exposure to broader organisational issues. I think my enthusiasm carries me through the hard work that’s needed to do the job. I’ve been well supported in every stage of my career and have learned to make the most of my experiences – good and bad – and ultimately think I’ve been quite lucky.
What does your daily job entail?
I believe in keeping the focus on the patients so it’s a constant balancing act between ward management duties, patient care and the other aspects of the Senior Charge Nurse role that fit between those two broad headings. Working in mental health means that every day is different (although I think every speciality says that) and it’s really difficult to give a typical day. I guess ultimately my job involves a whole lot of talking, listening and, of course, emailing!
How rewarding is it?
Very! Like any job it has its challenges, but this has to be balanced against the rewards of having a ward to call your own where the care reflects the standards that you and your team hold as important. Most importantly I still get to nurse
Do you find time for any hobbies? if so what?
Socialising (take from that what you will!) and more recently I’ve discovered the joys of exercise and go to the gym around 5 days a week – sometimes I don’t just lean on the water cooler.
Microwave meals or gourmet dinners?
Well if the offer is there I’ll have a gourmet dinner please. Alas, work means that quick and easy food is generally the order of the day, hence the needs for sit ups.
Fashionista or jeans and T shirts?
I’d really like to say fashionista but it’d be a lie. I’m not allowed to go shopping unsupervised as I tend to buy utter tripe and fail to recognise glaringly obvious clashing.
Ideal holiday location?
New York – and I’m going this year! Not sure how I’m paying for it yet, so donations are welcome!
It’s funny how your mind immediately goes to the big moments in life, like graduating etc. However, I think that if I really think about being proud it was being complimented on how I’d handled a difficult situation on the ward whilst I was still training. Not sure how much of a geek that makes me.
If you had one wish…….
Just give me a minute to mentally divide what can and can’t be printed… I think curing world hunger seems a little clichéd so I’ll just go ahead and wish that I didn’t have a receding hairline.