Sarah Whiting tells us about her job as an A&E nurse
As an experienced Accident and Emergency nurse Sarah is expected to think and assess quickly and that remains one of the key challenges of the job, as well as one of its most rewarding aspects.
18th May 2010
What is your current job title, what band are you, and which hospital department do you work in?
My current work title is Senior Sister and I'm a Band 7 nurse and I work in Accident and Emergency.
You don’t need to tell us the exact name, but what kind of organisation do you work for?
I work for an NHS Trust.
Tell me how and why you got in to nursing?
I went to see a careers advisor and she gave me a questionnaire to complete. When I looked at the results all suggestions were related to Nursing.
It also meant I didn't need fantastic A level grades so it seemed like a good idea. All of my friends went to university and, instead, I applied to nursing school. At that time it also meant I would get paid a wage for hours worked which I liked the idea of. I was only 17.
Do you remember your first day at work in nursing?
I remember my mum and dad taking me up to nursing school and thinking that everyone on my course was older than me.
What do you like most about your job working in A&E?
Interacting with all members of society and learning about others’ hardships. That and, in Accident and Emergency, having to make an accurate assessment in minutes.
What are the positive changes you’ve seen in nursing since you qualified as an RGN?
Patients now have more choice and waiting times have dramatically reduced. When I started my career in A&E patients would wait on trolleys for over 24 hours in corridors. This is now not seen as acceptable.
Do you miss anything from what the nursing industry was like when you started?
I feel my training was more practice based.
If you’ve worked in more than one hospital department, can you explain the things you prefer about each?
I have worked on an acute surgical ward which was very logical and regimented and I have worked on an acute medical ward which required the ability to work with a problem solving approach.
Does working for the NHS give good scope to further and grow your career, and how?
I have definitely found this to be the case as long as you are a motivated individual, yes.
Are nurses generally satisfied with the pay-scales in the NHS given the economic climate?
I wouldn't want to speak for others but I didn't become a nurse to earn a massive wage. I became a nurse to make a difference to peoples lives.
What personal skills would you suggest someone needs to possess if they want to work in nursing?
The ability to listen and accept silence. You need to be logical, approachable and most importantly you need to care for the well being of humanity.
What advice or help would you give to anyone wondering whether to take up a career as a nurse in the UK?
I would say that it is hard work and can be stressful but the rewards outweigh the negative aspects of the job.
Is it important to work as a healthcare assistant before deciding to start a nursing degree course?
I didn't work in health care before starting my training but I feel this would definitely have benefitted me in my learning processes.
Does a nursing degree course prepare you well for the job?
I don't have a degree. When I trained I did a practice based certificate and I have since completed a diploma in Mental Health Nursing along with a variety of practice based courses. I don't feel the staff I employ with a degree are better nurses for it but I do think that Nursing should get the academic recognition it deserves.
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Stafford, Staffordshire, England