We talk to Susannah Peters, advanced nurse practitioner in gastroenterology at East Sussex Healthcare Trust who has been a nurse for 28 years.
Why did you become an inflammatory bowel disease specialist nurse?
I moved to Sussex in 1999 and, having worked in the surgical field, decided to focus on medicine. Towards the end of that year, I became ill with ulcerative colitis. I had emergency surgery, which resulted in my losing my entire bowel and having a stoma before having an internal pouch formed. After I returned to work on the gastroenterology ward, my consultant was looking for an IBD nurse and approached me. I realised I was perfectly placed to build the role and use my own experiences to help others.
Where did you train?
I attended the consultant’s IBD clinic once a week for a year and gained experience on the ward. I also did a degree-level IBD course at St Mark’s Hospital in Harrow.
What is the trait you least like in yourself?
I find it difficult to say no. My workload is massive and I really only have myself to blame.
From whom have you learnt most in your career?
I am like a sponge and love learning something new every day. While I have learnt from many people, my present consultants have helped me get to where I am now.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
You need an enquiring mind. Once you have gained basic experience and realise which field you want to specialise in, focus on that and become the best. Make yourself invaluable to both colleagues and patients.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
I developed my role by devising, implementing and running a direct patient support line for my trust’s IBD service. I wanted to introduce a service that directly and immediately responded to patients’ needs and helped to cut the time they had to spend on a ward or wait for outpatient appointments. Many patients have my mobile number on speed dial. The relationship I have built with patients through this elevated interaction is by far the most rewarding part.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Being the runner-up in the Crohn’s and Colitis UK IBD Nursing Awards in 2012.
What is likely to change nursing in the next decade?
There will be more and more concentration on nurse practitioners. We are cheaper than doctors and demonstrate time and again that, with adequate experience and training, we are more than capable of doing the job.
What makes a good nurse?
Passion and wanting the best for your patients. Having been on the receiving end, empathy means so much.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
I’d be more than happy doing the same job that I am doing at the moment. I would love to see the NHS recognise the value of IBD nurses. There needs to be more funding so that there are IBD nurses in every hospital.
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
My mother. She died four years ago at the age of 91. She was a true inspiration and strength, and she always had wise words to offer.