• 27 June 2017
  • 3 min read

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

  • Suzanne Armstrong
    Intensive Care Deputy Sister

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.

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About the author

  • Suzanne Armstrong
    Intensive Care Deputy Sister

I am a lifelong nurse with a real passion for care. I started my career in a busy seaside A&E department and am now an intensive care deputy sister at a large city hospital. My work is and always has been a big part of my life, I fill the rest with my fantastic family, two beautiful little girls and cheeky cockapoo called Charlie.

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  • Suzanne Armstrong
    Intensive Care Deputy Sister

About the author

  • Suzanne Armstrong
    Intensive Care Deputy Sister

I am a lifelong nurse with a real passion for care. I started my career in a busy seaside A&E department and am now an intensive care deputy sister at a large city hospital. My work is and always has been a big part of my life, I fill the rest with my fantastic family, two beautiful little girls and cheeky cockapoo called Charlie.