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  • 27 June 2017
  • 3 min read

From bears to bandages: how I became an A&E Nurse

  • Suzanne Armstrong
    Deputy Intensive Care Charge Nurse

From bandaging toys to tending to patients as a fully qualified Nurse, Chris Armstrong voices his sister Suzanne's experience in her realisation that being a Nurse was the vocation for her. 

Like a lot of little girls I always loved to play doctors and nurses, but to me it was always more than just a game.

I took things to the next level.

Every teddy, doll and borrowed action man I could get my hands on would be cocooned in bandages and plasters, loose limbs would be stitched tight and a whole host of imaginary illness and injuries cured with hours of dutiful care.

I think, even then, I knew I was going to be a real nurse one day.

After school I started my training and was so proud and excited. I couldn’t think of anything else!

Training flew past in a whirl of textbooks and exams.

Soon, I was fully qualified, starting my new job as a busy A&E Nurse.

I was both overjoyed and terrified.

I remember the night before my first shift, staring at my brand new impossibly white uniform hanging on my wardrobe. I was so proud and so scared, I broke down in tears.

I spent over a decade in A&E. I soon found that I thrived off the pressure and drew strength from the hustle and bustle of a busy department.

I made some great friends (that I still have now), and worked with some fantastic nurses.

One of the things I loved about A&E was the patient turn over. I loved treating and caring for dozens, sometimes up to one hundred people per shift, moving from one patient to the next.

I got to meet and treat so many lovely people every day. For a long time I was content.

Every A&E department has its bad days. Impatient and ungrateful patients demanding treatment for self inflicted drinking injuries, whilst people with genuine accidental injuries sit quietly waiting.

I was once punched in the face whilst stitching a man’s hand. He turned out to be a heroin addict, and due to this, pain medication did nothing. I was punched through frustration and pain; something I can understand if not excuse.

After a while, I began to feel my faith in being a nurse shaken.

Maybe it was one too many drunks on a Saturday night? Or seeing the results of too many careless accidents? I don’t know what it was, but I feared I was becoming a cynical and sterile nurse.

I’d lost my way on the only path I had ever known, and it was hard to see the way back.

From A&E to Intensive Care 

The answer came in the form of the love of my life. We married and started a family.

I relocated to the other side of the country and took a position as a Senior Intensive Care Nurse.

The change was exactly what I needed.

My faith was restored, and I renewed my love of nursing. Caring for people one on one, helping them recover and regain control of their lives.

It’s everything I want from my job.

Sometimes when the unit is busy, surging with activity and the pressure is starting to build, I remember the little girl bandaging teddy bears.

I know this is where I should be and what I should be doing.

I am a nurse. I always have been, and I couldn’t be more proud of it.

Sarah Whiting tells us about her job as an A&E Nurse

Simon Pawlin - my job as an A&E Nurse

About the author

  • Suzanne Armstrong
    Deputy Intensive Care Charge Nurse

I worked as an Accident and Emergency Nurse at Blackpool Victoria for a decade. My time as an A&E nurse has shaped me into the person I am today, and I wouldn't change it for the world. It boosted my confidence and helped me build on skills which have fundamentally led me to my current position as the Deputy Intensive Care Charge Nurse at Guy's and St. Thomas' Hospitals. Nursing is a calling, not a job - it's why we do what we do.

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  • Suzanne Armstrong
    Deputy Intensive Care Charge Nurse

About the author

  • Suzanne Armstrong
    Deputy Intensive Care Charge Nurse

I worked as an Accident and Emergency Nurse at Blackpool Victoria for a decade. My time as an A&E nurse has shaped me into the person I am today, and I wouldn't change it for the world. It boosted my confidence and helped me build on skills which have fundamentally led me to my current position as the Deputy Intensive Care Charge Nurse at Guy's and St. Thomas' Hospitals. Nursing is a calling, not a job - it's why we do what we do.