OK then, to start off tell us what country/area you live in, how long you have been nursing for, what areas you have worked in and the specialty you currently work in.
I’m currently working in Western Australia in Perth where I’ve been for the past nine years, although I actually trained in the UK qualifying in 1997. My first job was on an acute medical ward where occasionally I found myself being the only qualified nurse looking after 21 patients. After a couple of years of that I got sick of feeding rice pudding to CVA patients and decided to switch to emergency where I’ve pretty much stayed ever since despite changing countries. I still class myself as an ED nurse but three years ago I became the first ever resuscitation officer at my hospital and had the pleasure of setting up a whole new system. Its a pretty cool job for a nurse as I get to teach people from all kinds of health backgrounds from psychiatrists to ICU consultants and new grad nurses to those on the brink of retirement. I get to keep my clinical skills up too as I take part on the medical emergency team and any priority ones that come to ED, so still very much a nurse but without the force feeding rice pudding.
What made you decide to become a nurse?
When I left school I worked as a PA for an architect who acted as expert witness on housing needs for people who were severely disabled by accidents. I used to read the nursing reports and began thinking it was something I could do. I have to confess that the fact that nursing students at the time got a bursary rather than student loans was fairly appealing too.
How have you seen the profession change over the course of your career? Do you see a positive future for the nurses that are graduating now?
I sometimes think that our drive to be respected as a profession has taken us further from the bedside. I hear nursing students tell me they do management units during their training but they seem to spend less and less time on prac which is sad. I think new nurses are missing out on the fun we had as students out on prac. I think patients tend to relate more to student nurses who generally have more time to sit and talk to them. I certainly developed far more therapeutic relationships with patients as a student than I have in the years since qualifying, and its a shame that current students have less chance to experience that. For experienced nurses we are constantly being driven further up the academic ladder. When I qualified senior staff were frantically trying to complete degrees in their spare time to keep up the pace with new graduates, now we are all trying to juggle work, families and Masters and PhD course work.
Tell us a story: an amazing, funny, moving or memorable moment from your book of shifts.
I’m going to cheat and use a funny and a moving one. Moving – a few weeks ago I came across a patient who had suffered an out of hospital cardiac arrest early last year, who was resuscitated by ED staff using the new 2010 resus guidelines that I had been drilling into them for weeks prior.
Where did I come across her but the maternity ward where she had just delivered a healthy baby girl.
Funny – back in the UK a father brought his 14 year old son in to emergency with burns to his buttocks and a large circular burn to his face. We eventually got dad to stop laughing so he could tell us that his son had been lighting his farts over the toilet and bending down to watch when BOOM!
Not just a nurse: what about when you are not at work? What do you get up to in the rest of your life?
Yesterday I sat with my family on the veranda eating pancakes and watching the kangaroos graze my garden. Now that’s pretty amazing for a girl who grow up in the English midlands.
Piss and Vinegar: name 3 things that really get under your skin, push your buttons, or generally irritate you at work or outside of work.
The politics of health care. Accept it health care costs a hell of a lot of money but every single one of us is going to need it at some point. So which ever side of the political fence you sit on stop trying to make us on the coal face do more for less and lets invest in providing the very best health care we can.
The nurses desk: What is the one thing you would like to say to the rest of the nurses or general public out there.
Make your focus the patient in front of you. Look at your patient not the monitor. It doesn’t matter if they have presented with a sore toe or a cardiac arrest assess their ABC’s