Stepping into the shoes of a West Suffolk nurse

When the opportunity came to spend some time shadowing a nursing team at West Suffolk Hospital, I jumped at the chance. After all, as the daughter of a locally trained nurse and with one of my own daughter’s working in the NHS, a calling to the medical profession skipped a generation in my family! 

That said, my experience of the profession has mostly been on the receiving end as a cancer patient. To really understand the role – the pressures and its rewards – you must be prepared to get involved. And what better occasion than International Nurses Day.

I spent time shadowing Maddie O’Brien, an Endoscopy Sister, and my outstanding guide who showed me around, introduced the team and talked me through their roles. Together we discussed the profession, the career paths open to nurses, as well as improvements being made to their unit as to help support more patients.

In celebration of the day, the matrons’ station was transformed into a pop-up café displaying messages of love, recounting happy memories, and showing the care staff have for their patients and their families.

Amongst the messages were those recounting moments of the sadness at the loss of a patient. Yet speaking with the staff, some with careers spanning over thirty years, they said the happiest memories always endured. 

Talking to people about their jobs helps me to do mine, and as is often the case, I was sent away with a long list of things to consider and ways I can seek to support our NHS staff. Just recently, for instance, I ensured our hospital was able to discuss with the Government, the challenges they as a leading Trust have in supporting nursing apprenticeships and getting more people into nursing.

Working closely with our hospital, I am always pushing to ensure not only that its outstanding efforts are recognised but that the hospital and its staff are supported as they continue delivering quality patient care.

Meeting the teams, it is clear to me why West Suffolk Hospital is consistently rated top of the national staff tables as a place to work and somewhere staff would recommend for treatment of a friend or family member.

So many of the different nurses I met had varying backgrounds and experiences, but all had a shared value in giving the best care and support to their patients and with a pride in their place of work.

So whilst Saturday 12th May 2018 is the given day, whether you’re a nurse or a patient, every day in our NHS is International Nurses Day.

Published in the Bury Free Press