'One of the most rewarding jobs in the world'

We talk to nurses about their experiences and why they chose nursing as a career.

Nursing student

LJMU nursing grads Simon, Paula and Sam share their experiences...

One terrible moment changed Simon’s life forever

“I left school at 16 and went full time at the corner shop. My mum wasn’t happy, but by the time I was 21 I owned that shop. I then went on to open a whole chain. But when I was on my honeymoon everything changed. Me and my wife Nancy were on a speedboat. And it crashed. The accident broke Nancy’s back.

“From that moment it was like being picked up from my world and put into another. I was suddenly in hospitals a lot. After that, I became a health care assistant. I studied psychotherapy at Loughborough and then took the BSc Nursing (Mental Health) course at LJMU. Now, two years after graduating, I’m an Inpatient Manager.”

Even though Simon Nielson only graduated in 2014, he’s already a band seven Inpatient Manager at the Dewi Jones Unit at Alder Hey Children's Hospital. Even though Simon loves his job, he doesn’t regret his years in retail and knows that the experience he gained back then helps him in his current role. 

If you’re studying to become a nurse or if you’re thinking about starting a career in nursing, Simon recommends you get in touch with the Dewi Jones Unit as staff always welcome students and could offer you a tour.

Paula was one of the first graduate nurses at LJMU

“The thing that I am most passionate about is developing the skills of student nurses, particularly in engaging with people and developing communication skills.

“I recall an incident many years ago as a community nurse when I met a lady who had been through some very traumatic events in her life. I was tasked with conducting an assessment so that we could identify ways in which our service might help her. The first two times I met this lady she was unable to answer any of my questions as she was so distressed. I remember worrying about how I might complete the assessment. On my third visit I remember thinking about how much pain this woman must have inside and just reached out and touched the woman’s hand, we sat for a few moments. That’s all it took. She almost immediately stopped crying and was able to talk with me. Our conversation helped me to signpost her to parts of the service that could really help meet her needs. That one moment stayed with me throughout my career and reminded me that what people seeking help really want is genuine care, compassion and warmth. Yes, you’re a nurse and there are tasks that need to be completed but you’re a human too and connecting with people on a human level is, for me, a vital part of our work.”

Paula Kennedy is a mental health nurse, she graduated from LJMU in 1994 with a diploma in nursing. Paula was part of the first nursing cohort to undertake an accredited programme at LJMU. Since graduating, Paula has worked in mental health settings mainly in the community and with children and young people. She joined LJMU as a senior lecturer in mental health nursing in 2004. Paula retrained to become a systemic family therapist in 2011 and continues to work as nurse lecturer at LJMU and an honorary practitioner in adult mental health services.

With a small gesture Sam helped a family mark a special day

“I’ve cried with so many patients and I‘ve laughed with so many patients. Once, an elderly man I’d been looking after for more than a year told me that tomorrow was his birthday and his wedding anniversary. That night, I bought him some chocolates, a card and ordered him a cake. In the morning our team gathered round and we all sang 'happy birthday'. The whole ward had signed his card. To us, as nurses, it was a little thing. But the elderly man and his family burst into tears. When you’re a patient you can feel vulnerable, lonely and isolated. It meant a lot to them and made them so happy.

“Of course, not every day is like that. There are days when I’ve been resuscitating one of my patients with the team, another patient’s buzzer is going as they require assistance, the phone is ringing, your confused patient is heading towards the unlocked doors (this actually happens all the time) and you just think 'why, why, why, why now?'. But, saying that, I don’t think it’s possible to love any job in the world as much as I love my job.”

At aged five Sam had a nurse’s uniform. After falling and cutting her knee though, Sam decided maybe nursing wasn’t for her after all. But having spent some time in hospitals, by the time Sam was 17 her career trajectory had become clear.

Sam, who’s originally from Widnes, secured a place on LJMU’s BSc Adult Nursing course. Sam is now a nurse at Whiston Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department and is studying for a Masters in Advanced Healthcare Practice.

Discover more about the nursing programme at LJMU by watching the 'be part of our nursing team' video or taking a look at the course factfiles.


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