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We talk to Theatre Scrub Nurse Zoe Taylor about her nursing career and the differences between theatre nurse jobs in the private and public sectors.
26th July 2010
What is your current job title, what band are you, and which hospital department do you work in?
I am an Endoscopy Nurse and a Theatre Nurse.
You don’t need to tell us the exact name, but what kind of organisation do you work for?
I work in the private sector in a hospital in Milton Keynes.
You began your career as a carer, what drew you to the healthcare profession?
At the age of 30, I had to have a hysterectomy. At the time I had 4 young children and had been working in the pub trade for 16 years as a manager and a chef. Whilst in hospital I decided that I could be a nurse. So I applied to do an access course and at the same time got myself 2 jobs, one to pay for childcare and the other to gain experience. At first I was employed as a chef in a care home, but when they heard I was interested in the caring side they started training me.
What did you like most about being a carer and care home jobs?
I loved assisting the elderly with choosing what they were going to wear that day and doing their hair, or helping the men to shave and get ready for the day.
What made you decide to train as a nurse, and what was your dream nursing job at the time?
To become a nurse I had to start at the beginning, I had a basic idea of how to care for people but had no experience of the ethical or political side of the job. At first I wanted to get an A&E job, because I thought it would be exciting, and being in the pub trade I could cope with irritated, intoxicated people.
What was your first job as a newly qualified nurse, and what did you like / dislike about it?
I had to wait for almost 5 months to get a job when I first qualified. At the time a lot of nurses were being recruited from Asia and this meant that there was lots of competition for jobs. I applied for a job as a theatre nurse, but had only been into theatre once to see one knee operation. I loved the job but it was hard work - 30 cataract patients in one afternoon three times a week. When the company got the local PCT contract, our operations changed to day cases which was mostly minor lumps and bumps, gastroscopies, arthroscopies, all of which I had to learn to scrub for. The down side was when as a newly qualified I was asked to take over the running of theatres. It was hard work, and I also had to learn to write policies and procedures. Looking back no-one should have ever put me in that position but I learnt a lot.
What was the experience like of working for a private firm contracting for the NHS?
In the private sector when I was newly qualified, situations where not always handled as well as they could have been. The money was great, but the private hospital I went to work in as a theatre nurse was totally different. I'd been self taught how to scrub for cases and had far too many bad habits, so they had to teach me the correct methods.
What made you decide to transfer to the NHS, and was it a difficult change?
I moved to the NHS because the company I was working for lost their PCT contract. At first I was driving to Rotherham and staying there 3 days a week to work but it got too much in the end. I saw an advert for my local NHS hospital where I trained and applied for a job as an endoscopy nurse. I spent almost three years there and didn’t go up a grade, which I didn't feel was fair considering all the skills I had learned.
What professional development have you done in order to progress to where you are now?
I have attended lots of training sessions in endoscopy, some led by reps and the rest were house training sessions taken by the nurses within the unit. But sometimes we were held back by the excuse of “you can't go on your training today we are short staffed”.
Do you find your job satisfaction is still quite high or has it decreased over time and why?
I have since returned to the private hospital in Milton Keynes, they waited for me for almost 6 months to complete my NHS training. I love my job even more now because I get to do both roles. I love being both an endoscopy nurse and a scrub nurse.
If you could make one change in NHS policy on any subject, what would it be?
That the nurses should get more training in their department so they can progress up the professional ladder, and get better pay.
Would you recommend your role to aspiring students and newly qualified nurses as a career goal to aim for, and why?
I would say to anyone wanting to join the nursing profession, it's definitely not boring or repetitive. We do something different every day, we learn something new every day and with technology changing all the time you can never get bored of learning new skills.
You stated before this interview that you are dyslexic. Has your dyslexia affected your career progression as a nurse, and does it make any daily tasks particularly difficult?
I'd say that being open and honest about being dyslexia was very important. When I was training I was almost kicked off my course as I failed an assignment 3 times. The college knew I was dyslexic but because I was a diploma student, I was only offered an ad-hoc scheme of assistance. Obviously I fought my corner not just for my self but for anyone else following me and I qualified. It was hard work. I had to write my assignments 3 or 4 times then get my tutor to read it then I'd type it up and I'd still be wrong.
Working in the NHS I passed some maths exams run by De-Montford Uni, the only reason I was put on the course was because by boss told me if I wanted to do drug calculation then I had to do this course first. Then I never got to do the drugs round in the end anyway. Daily tasks, if I do them methodically, are of course fine. But this is just me. People know what I'm like and accept me for it. My mentor is dyslexic as well, and it’s been very useful... until we have paper work to complete!
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