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Bernadette explains how and why she became a nurse, the importance of working your way up in nursing, and what you should expect if you’re thinking of finding a job overseas as a nurse.
27th April 2010
What is your current nursing job?
I work for a Cancer Charity Organisation. My job title is Senior Sister Community.
You’re an experienced nurse and healthcare professional. Tell us how you feel the industry has changed in your years in it.
The care industry seems to be more technical and geared towards documentation. Senior staff now appear to be less hands-on (and I prefer to be hands-on) and I feel that there are too many policies and not enough care direct. I think it's down to increasing legislation in the care sector.
What made you want to leave your job in banking to become an auxilliary nurse in the early nineties?
I felt I had something to offer. But I didn’t want to commit myself to train to become a qualified nurse without knowing I was going to enjoy the profession. So I found a job as an auxilliary nurse first. A little like trying it out before signing up.
That makes sense to us. So, do you remember your first day at work in healthcare?
I do. Yes, I remember that I worked on a really good ward. They made me feel part of the team which was great. Whether you were the sister or the domestic we all felt important. I was told that the team on the ward consisted of domestic to ward manager and everyone had their say to make it safe and comfortable for the patient.
What’s the best thing about being a community nurse?
For me it’s simple: it’s the direct patient care, the one-to-one nursing care we can provide.
You’ve worked for a number of PCTs. What are the key differences between working for the NHS and then organisations outside of the public sector?
The main differences between public and private industry is that deadlines are tighter in private industry and, I must admit, more professional. The public industry is more 'laid back' probably as the organisation is so much bigger.
You’ve used your nursing skills to find work overseas. This is one of the advantages of this industry. How did you find your time working outside of the UK?
Working abroad as a nurse is very different to the UK. Of course it depends on where you are, but in some countries the standards are very low and care is not as passionate. Where I work, in Cyprus, the shortage of nurses doesn’t help the industry as nurses tend to dictate what they do and don't do. It has really opened my eyes. I’ll never run the NHS down again! It's far superior to anywhere else I’ve worked as a nurse overseas.
Is there such a thing as a typical day as a community nurse?
Yes, every day there are not enough hours to care for the amount of patients! I need to say though that it’s really enjoyable and rewarding knowing that you have helped or even just given patients some company and care for the day.
What would you say to someone who is wondering whether to become a nurse - what should they expect?
I think that all new staff should start at the bottom of the scale and see if they like the profession first. Being an Auxiliary Nurse opened the pathway to my career and I have never looked back. Starting at the bottom gave me insight into all aspects of the role of a nurse, and how nursing staff fit into the team.
It also gives you knowledge of who can do what and when. I also know all the scams and who does what! I don't think anyone should just 'become a nurse'. By that I mean you have to WANT to be a nurse, and work with passion.