We talk to Amanda Woollard, sister in the emergency department at Northern General Hospital in Sheffield, who has been a nurse for three years.
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
I’ve always been fascinated by how the human body works and I get an enormous sense of satisfaction from looking after people, nurturing and caring for them. A desk job would never have suited me.
Where did you train?
Sheffield Hallam University
What was your first job in nursing?
In accident and emergency.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
I have very high expectations so push myself hard. This can be useful but I can become easily frustrated by those will not put 110% into their work.
From whom have you learnt the most in your career?
Jane Reckless, who was a senior sister in the emergency department when I first started as a newly qualified nurse. She was approachable, encouraging and always friendly to patients. I really admire that quality in senior staff. I have a learned a lot from my colleague, Sister Zoe Dutton. She sharpens my nursing skills and tirelessly works for better patient care. She showed me you can radically change a department even as a junior member of staff.
Nurses will need to become more like junior doctors, with healthcare assistants having to fulfil the role of traditional nursing
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Invest your time around your most inspiring fellow nurses, ask as many questions as you like and don’t rush.
What keeps you awake at night?
Major traumas I have witnessed at work. You never forget the faces of people who have been unexpectedly lost, or the relatives to whom you have to give the worst news. This is the toughest part of my job.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
When someone comes in really sick and in pain, we give life-saving treatment and they immediately look so different – I love that transformation.
What’s your proudest achievement?
I volunteered with the charity Mercy Ships; for three months I lived on the world’s only floating hospital as it sailed around Africa giving surgery and healthcare to the world’s poorest people. It was a real challenge but life-changing for me and my career.
What is likely to change nursing in the next decade?
The volume of people needing care from the NHS – the pressures on us are already overwhelming and the population size is continuing to grow. Nurses will need to be more like junior doctors, and have increased responsibility in their clinical decision making, while healthcare assistants will need to move closer to fulfilling the role of traditional nursing.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
I’d have been a vet. I love animals and would still get to look after somebody.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
Our appreciation for true holistic care. We aim for this in the NHS but there is room for such development. There is always more to people than fixing a physical problem; people need to be viewed as a whole, to be loved and valued for who they are.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
A ramble in the Peak District and dinner with all my friends.