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ROLE MODEL

Taking flight from nursing

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Sheila Scott’s career of departures and arrivals has given her new perspective to cope in the job

sheila scott

sheila scott

Sheila Scott never dreamed of being a nurse, but then it was never a childhood goal to be a flight attendant either.

In fact, she was actually scared by the prospect of nursing when she first considered it, thinking she could never be confident and knowledgeable enough for the role. But a job at a care home soon changed her mind. “I really loved caring for people and I found I could make a difference in someone’s life, even if it was something small, like helping people put socks on,” she says.

Ms Scott still did not care much for the clinical side of things, but after her father encouraged her to find a career in which she could progress, she decided to apply for nursing school. It was during the interview that everything became clear.

“It’s like a whole world opened up in my head and I realised nursing is vast, and I could be whoever and whatever kind of nurse I wanted to be,” she recalls.

After training in Manchester, Ms Scott moved to London with the hope of obtaining a rotational post, but none were to be found. She bounced from post to post, turning her career into its own rotational post – from cardiothoracic to renal, she tried it all. But this “higgledy-piggledy” path led her to burn out before she’d even really got going.

“It’s like a whole world opened up in my head and I realised nursing is vast, and I could be whoever and whatever kind of nurse I wanted to be” 

“Every place I worked at, I kind of gave it my all,” Ms Scott says. “Sometimes I thought that to be a good nurse meant giving every ounce of everything you had, but obviously that’s not healthy to do all the time.”

She opted to go travelling for a year, volunteering as a nurse in Nepal, India and Ghana. While in Ghana, she worked at a healthcare centre at a remote location, where people would come from miles around to receive treatment – mostly malaria care and diagnosis, along with education about sanitation and hygiene.

She later worked at an orphanage in Nepal for four weeks, playing with and caring for children who were not in school. And in India she spent two months travelling, but having intended to work at Mother Teresa’s home for sick and dying people, scheduling difficulties meant she only ended up staying for one day.

Upon returning to the UK she worked as a nurse but, after nine months, jumped at the offer of a cabin crew job for a Middle Eastern airline.

“I love nursing and I look forward with positivity to the rest of my career, no matter where that might be.”

“I figured I should be open to life and nursing is all about looking after people, so the people skills I had from nursing were easily transferable,” Ms Scott says.

Once she had started in nursing, she says she had thought that would be her career for life, but the airline work ended up being a great experience: “I think I’ve also become a better nurse for it, and all of my travels and experiences can only shape me to be a better person.”

Ms Scott has been back as a nurse in general paediatrics for a year and now feels grounded. “I don’t know if my travelling boots are hung up permanently, but I’m really wanting to be settled now,” she says.

“I figured I should be open to life and nursing is all about looking after people, so the people skills I had from nursing were easily transferable”

Ms Scott has also found that her range of experiences are a selling point to employers. “I was worried that people wouldn’t look too kindly on my CV because of how much I’ve bounced around, but I figure that surely doing a lot more is better than being still and staying stuck,” she explains.

Her adventures have improved her outlook on life and helped her career to mature. She says that she feels more prepared for the signs of burn-out and now knows how to look after herself better than she used to.

“It’s not healthy to give every ounce of yourself to others and it’s important to look after yourself,” she says. “When you’ve got all these pressures and constraints, you get so bogged down that it’s hard to come up for air.”

Ms Scott remains open to any opportunities that come her way, although she thinks community nursing may be her next step.

“As you get older, you can dip into all sorts of different things and it’s good to have that variety,” she considers.

“I love nursing and I look forward with positivity to the rest of my career, no matter where that might be.”

Kelsy Ketchum

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Michelle

    “It’s not healthy to give every ounce of yourself to others and it’s important to look after yourself,” she says. “When you’ve got all these pressures and constraints, you get so bogged down that it’s hard to come up for air.”

    This is such an important thing to remember, and something I need to learn by!

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