Nursing and Me: Inspiring Stories from our Alumni

Each year on May 12th, the work of nurses around the world is celebrated as International Nurses Day. For this year’s event, we’ve collected stories from graduates of our nursing courses to see where their degree has taken them and what advice they would offer to other aspiring nurses.

Anna Heaton 

Registered Nurse at Western Australia Country Health Service

Anna works as a regional reliever, travelling to rural and remote areas of Western Australia, providing nursing care to isolated populations. She works within aboriginal communities, liaises with the Royal Flying Doctor Service and assists in emergency transfers to regional hospitals.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

“My greatest achievement is being able to use my skills to help those much worse off than us. I have had the opportunity to volunteer in Africa and India. I hope that my postgraduate studies (in global health) will set me up in a career where I can utilise my nursing skills in providing humanitarian aid.”

What advice would you give to aspiring nurses?

“It is hard work and you will never stop learning, but the opportunities that nursing opens up are infinite. You have to be fairly strong, have confidence and be compassionate. You need to want to be a nurse, but most of all have a sense of humour!”

Read more about Anna’s story in her graduate profile.

Christopher Mulliss

Scrub Nurse at NHS Stockport Foundation Trust, Stepping Hill Hospital

Christopher works in hospital theatres as a scrub nurse, wherein he assists in surgical procedures. He came to the decision to work in this role during his degree at Manchester.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

“My greatest achievement is scrubbing for some big cases in orthopaedic surgery! I particularly love working in the trauma theatre where there can be a wide variety of different cases on any day. When I started scrubbing for cases such as the insertion of a dynamic hip screw, I really felt that I had achieved something to be proud of.”

What advice would you give to aspiring nurses?

“When I was looking for a job, employers seemed to be looking for a real interest in theatres and an enthusiasm to learn and develop within the role. They were also genuinely interested in extracurricular activities so involvement with the nursing society, voluntary work, hobbies and jobs which you can relate to the role are important too!

Also, if you’re a bit squeamish, then theatres may not be for you!”

Harriet Couper

Emergency Department Research Nurse at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Harriet spends half of her time working as a staff nurse at King’s College Hospital, and the other half conducting research through funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

“I set up a Research Awareness Week in my department to promote our studies and raise awareness amongst my colleagues of the new team. It was very gratifying to be able to share my geeky passion for research in a way that promoted patient choice within the department.”

 What advice would you give to aspiring nurses?

“There are so, so many roles within nursing that undertaking nurse training really isn’t choosing one career. Get as broad an experience as possible during your training and always keep in mind just how many skills you have.

Although we think we’re trained to be staff nurses, we have a wealth of skills that are really valuable in other jobs – time management and prioritising, teaching people of all levels of understanding, and all-important negotiation skills.”

Melanie Venables

District Nurse, East Chesire NHS Trust

Melanie works as a District Nurse, wherein she visits members of her community in their homes and provides care.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

“As a community nurse, providing high quality care for the dying has got to be the pinnacle of my achievement. The rewards are beyond measure, and because there is no second chance to get this type of care right, it is demanding both intellectually and emotionally. Each and every case is unique.”

What advice would you give to aspiring nurses?

“Be tenacious and don’t give up. Nursing is a tough career choice and you will cry from frustration and exhaustion. But it is worth it, every bit of it, because you will also laugh, love and triumph in ways you can’t even imagine.

Sometimes it is hard to see the way forward, but I have found, when it all seems most impossible is when the best opportunity arises, so believe!”

Sophie Birch

Core Research Nurse at York Teaching Hosptial NHS Foundation Trust

Sophie works on clinical trials in neuroscience, rheumatology and renal at York Trust. She began her career as a Staff Nurse at King’s College Hospital in London, then moved to Australia to work as a nurse before returning to the UK.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

“I would have to say knowing that you’ve made a difference to someone’s life, and those special moments when you know the person you’re caring for won’t forget you, and you certainly won’t forget them. Bit cheesy, but true!”

What advice would you give to aspiring nurses?

“Expect the unexpected. Expect to work crazy hours (even as a student). Expect to have to turn social stuff down because you’re on placement. Expect bodily fluids.

But expect to feel satisfied after dressing your first wound. Expect to feel proud of looking after your first patient. Expect your friends from your course to become your closest allies. Expect the unexpected.”

Read more profiles of our nursing graduates and find out more about International Nurses Day.

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