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Real life stories - Ward manager

Robert was inspired to become a nurse in his late teens, after visiting relatives in hospital.

Name: Robert Dennis

Job title: Ward manager, acute children’s ward, King’s College Hospital, London

Entry route: adult and children’s registered nursing diploma/degree


At first, I didn’t think about being a children’s nurse because I was visiting adults’ wards, but as it happened, my training placement at Alder Hey, Liverpool, was a year longer than normal and combined adult and children’s nursing, qualifying me to do both. From being a staff nurse on a children’s ward, I undertook a variety of courses and worked my way up to become a ward manager. I could not over-emphasise how much support I have had within the NHS, particularly when it comes to having training to gain more skills and knowledge.

Since joining King’s College Hospital, I have been given further opportunities to develop my management and leadership skills and these have given me greater confidence and opened up more options for my career path. My ward deals with children with cystic fibrosis.

We work very closely with our community children’s nurses: increasingly the NHS seems to be strengthening its children’s nursing within the community and that is a good thing. Being ward manager is a mixture of clinical care - directing activities of the team on the ward to ensure that all patients receive the clinical care required - and being a role model, demonstrating to staff what is expected professionally, and being responsible for all aspects 16 bed acute ward that deals with any child who comes through the A&E department. We’ve got about 34 staff on the ward and I’m managerially responsible for them.

There is also an element of having to manage finances and resources, so I look at the budget and make sure we are not overspending. The NHS provides plenty of opportunities and there are options for career progression; I could go into a purely management role. I have a MBA, which I took with a view to going into general management, but I have decided my heart is in clinical care. I could also go on to become a consultant nurse.