Always dreamed of caring for those who are sick, but not sure where to start? Three insiders reveal all…
YOUR ROUTE IN Sarah, 23, is a staff nurse from Bath
‘Growing up with a mum who was a health care assistant, I always knew I wanted to go into nursing. I volunteered at a local day centre while doing my A-Levels, before studying general adult nursing at Cardiff University. The course lasted three years and had struggled to deal with the workload. Every week we had 37 hours of studying and once a term, we’d do a six week work placement. Nursing jobs are hard to come by, even with a degree, so I applied for as many as possible. Eventually I landed a job on a kidney ward. That’s when my nurse training really began. it’s easy as a newly qualified nurse to think you know it all, but the truth is you could work in the industry for 20 years and still find more to learn. After 18 months I landed a job working in intensive care, something I wouldn’t have been qualified to do without that first job. Salaries for jobs in the NHS are based on different bands. Within each band there’s different scales of pay. Every six months I have an assessment. during which goals and targets are set. If I achieve them then I move up a scale until I’m at the top of my band and that’s when you jump up or get a promotion if one’s available.’
A DAY IN THE LIFE Hollie, 26, is a staff nurse from Swindon
‘My day is broken into an early shift or a late shift – with an early starting at 7am and a late going on well into the night. There are 41 patients on my ward, and I’ll be in charge of 14, so there’s a lot to stay on top of. My day begins by reading the handover notes left by the nurse who has just clocked off. Once handover is complete, it’s time for the morning medications, as well as ensuring all patients are awake, washed and have been to the toilet. This is followed by doctor’s rounds, which nurses must attend so that they’re fully briefed on the patients’ care and medical needs. Around five hours in I’m meant to take a coffee break, but most days this gets eaten up by phone calls, distressed relatives, doctors asking me to “quickly” do something or junior members of staff asking for updates or advice. The rest of the day is full of medication rounds, updating handover sheets, completing online care plans and having a chat to those you’re caring for. Most days I end up working later that my set finish time. And as I’m preparing to leave, I can guarantee I’ll be caught by a relative wanting to ask questions or a patient having a problem that I’ll need to sort before I can finally walk out the door.’
WHAT THE JOB AD WON’T TELL YOU Sophie 21, is a staff nurse from Maidstone
‘Nothing can prepare you for how difficult the transition from student to health-care professional can be. As a student nurse there are several people watching over you, making sure you’re doing your job right and advising on difficult situations. But in your first job, you’re as good as on your own. One of the hardest things is that if you mess up it can literally be the difference between life and death. That’s very difficult, so I had to learn to be confident enough to admit if I wasn’t sure of something. I work three or four 13 – hour shifts a week, so by the time I get home the last thing I want to do is go out drinking with my mates. But I have to force myself to have fun – if I didn’t, I could go weeks without seeing anyone other than my colleagues. I was also surprised by how difficult it can be to speak to the doctors on my ward. The Majority of them are men and it’s hard not to feel very young and inexperienced next to them. I made the mistake of thinking we could be friends, but they’re not interested. When a doctor has a job to do, they just want the facts.’
STARTING SALARY: £20,00
AVERAGE SALARY BY 30: £27,000
WHAT’S THE MOST I COULD EARN?: Just over £67,000 if you go on to become a nurse consultant.
KEY QUALITIES: People skills, good communication and the ability to deal with emotional situations.
QUALIFICATIONS: A nursing qualification specialising in your chosen area eg adult, mental health
WHERE DO I FIND OUT MORE? Go to www.nhscareers.nhs.uk
(Please Note: The information is from the More Magazine article ‘So you want to be a Nurse’ in Issue 8th April 2013, I did not write this!)
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