All set for a career in law, Victoria Bryant then realised she wanted to become a nurse - and so retrained
Victoria Bryant was looking forward to a promising career as a lawyer with a top criminal law firm in London, when, at the last moment, she decided that a lifelong career in nursing was more suited to her. She was initially attracted to the legal profession by the glamour and the money associated with it but, despite having trained for a career in law, realised it was in her nature to fulfil a different ambition.
“I decided to change my career and went into nursing. My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and I discovered I had a fascination with neurological conditions. It was the initial prompt for me to go into the career,” she recalls.
Now a senior nurse at PJ Care, a neurological care centre in Milton Keynes, Ms Bryant has a very different set of responsibilities to those she expected to have as a lawyer. She arrives at work at 8am promptly to receive handover notes from her colleagues; from then on, it is all about the residents, from dispensing their medicine in the morning, to undertaking clinical activity such as dressing wounds. There is also routine activity: feeding patients, managing telephone calls, having meetings.
When she compares her training in law and nursing she says they are worlds apart: “I started as a personal assistant in a law firm, then did the legal practice course to become a solicitor so it was a slightly alternative route of getting into law. It’s totally different to nursing.
“I enjoyed the nursing training as it is interactive and you do more practice than theory. When I did my law exams it was extremely intense. It’s hard to compare them but as soon as I started my nursing training I knew I had made the right decision. I just felt like it was me.”
Ms Bryant initially registered to train at Kingston University. When describing her experience in her first role she says: “My first position after I qualified was quite daunting because I was still a student nurse. It was great. I was working with people with complex care needs and also with long-term neurological conditions and learnt a huge amount. It really gave me a stepping stone before I joined PJ Care, as I had so many clinical skills and leadership delegation skills as well. It was a really good footing,” says Ms Bryant.
At the neurological clinic, Ms Bryant faces challenges every day with residents who have a range of conditions from Huntington’s disease, to early dementia and motor neurone disease. But, when asked by Nursing Times to describe the best aspect of her decision to become a nurse, she doesn’t miss a beat.
“The best thing is the fact that I can make a difference in people’s lives, it’s just the greatest feeling you can get. Building that rapport and that relationship, giving that individualised care and seeing the difference from when you first nursed a patient to seeing the end result - it’s so rewarding,” she says.
Ms Bryant believes the desire to nurse is inherent in your nature - something that ultimately means she makes a better nurse than a lawyer. So, when it comes to choosing whether you would like a career in nursing she says: “You just have to go with your heart. When it comes to being a nurse, you need to have the care and the compassion and everything within you to know it’s the right thing. It’s not a 9-5 job and you need to know it’s right for you. If you feel you are that caring person, go for it. I took a massive risk but it has paid off.”