I have, perhaps, an unusual background for a nurse. I was previously a research scientist, acquiring a BSc and PhD, and then working as a microbiologist at a university.
In September 2011, I started a Postgraduate Diploma in Adult Nursing, motivated by an enjoyment of working with people from all walks of life, a desire to make a difference on a daily basis and a wish to apply my academic ability in a more practical setting.
Having now completed my training, I can genuinely say that in nursing I have found a career that I find immensely rewarding.
When I embarked upon my nursing training, I wasn’t too concerned about the academic side of the course. That’s not to say I didn’t have to work, only that my previous experience had prepared me well for it. In contrast, I wasn’t sure how I would cope in a clinical setting. I had very little care experience and I was worried that the reality of being on the ward wouldn’t live up to what I had imagined. As it turned out, it was everything I thought and more.
For my first nursing job, I have chosen to move from the trust where I trained. This is both exciting and slightly nerve-wracking. I am beginning my career as a staff nurse and dealing with all the responsibility that comes with that, while also having to learn new systems, work with completely new people and find my way around a new hospital.
For the last two weeks I have been working as an HCA, waiting for my NMC registration to come through. This period has helped me familiarise myself with a new ward and the routine that comes with it. However, this weekend I discovered that I am now on the NMC register and, as of this week, I am a nurse. I am nervous and apprehensive, but excited. This is, of course, what I have been working towards for the last two years.
During my training I embraced every opportunity to learn. I integrated myself into the multidisciplinary team; asked questions, lots of them (my poor mentors); and went home and read the theory underlying every clinical procedure.
I aim to approach my job in the same way as my training. I will continue to ask questions and make sure I understand the theory behind everything I do, from administering medications to completing paperwork. Even so, at the back of my mind there are the little niggling questions. Will I manage my time effectively and prioritise appropriately? Will I have enough time for each of my patients? What if I make a mistake? Then again, talking with newly qualified colleagues I know I’m not alone.
Mostly I’m excited. I’m excited to get started in a job that I already love. I start this new career without regret for leaving the former. And my nursing practice will always be enriched by the skills, knowledge and experience I gained prior to my nursing training.
Stephanie Hunter is a Staff Nurse at West Middlesex University Hosiptal