12 May 2017

Sheffield nurses give insight into their roles for International Nurses’ Day

International Nurses’ Day is held every year on May 12th, the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, and celebrated around the world.

There are now a wide range of roles within nursing, from developing advance practice skills to working on research, safeguarding and technological change.

Here, a selection of the nurses who care for patients every day at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals explain in their own words what motivated them to become nurses, what they do in their jobs and what they get out of it.


Sally Conlan, Advance Nurse Practitioner

I originally came into nursing after working as a clinical support worker on a part time basis whilst studying for a literature degree. This led me into following in my parents footsteps, as my Dad was a paramedic and my mum was a nursing auxiliary.

For many years I worked as a staff nurse on an Acute Medical Unit (AMU) department as I was drawn to caring for the acutely unwell patient and the different diseases and conditions that patients would present with.

Nursing patients when they are acutely unwell is very challenging but extremely rewarding. It is a privilege to care for patients that need the NHS service.

I now work within the Hospital Out of Hours team. As a team we cover a large part of the in- patient areas at the Northern General Hospital, Royal Hallamshire Hospital and Weston Park Hospital.

Advanced Nurse Practitioners are qualified to assess, diagnose and treat patients and we work closely alongside our medical colleagues to provide an out of hours’ service. The service triages all the patients’ needs and assigns the right person with the correct skill set to tend to patients.

Advanced practice has been established quite recently in the history of nursing. It has allowed nurses to become competent in areas that were previously only for other professions within the NHS. As we look to the future it’s clear that advanced nursing will expand even further.


Anna Wilson, Research Nurse, Emergency Department

As a newly qualified nurse I got my first job in the Emergency Department (ED), where I worked as a Staff Nurse for over nine years.

During this time, I have seen many changes in the way the department works and the care that we give to patients, the changing roles that nurses can now take on and new treatments that have been recognised. How these changes had come about interested me and I began to think about how I could become involved in developing emergency care for our staff and patients.

Two years ago an opportunity came up to apply for a secondment to join a research team that would work in the ED. After looking in to the role I applied and was successful at interview. Now I work solely as a Research Sister in the ED, alongside my colleague Sarah.

We help to run a portfolio of four studies, including two drug studies within the department, giving patients the chance to take part in research at the ‘front door’ of their hospital journey. The role is varied and challenging. As well as aiming to recruit to studies in a high-pressured environment, we also follow up patients at set time points and ensure that all the paperwork is completed to a high standard.

Research nurses still care for patients and use the recognised nursing process. We guide and support patients to make their own choices about research participation by giving them the appropriate information.

It is very rewarding to be able to spend time with patients and give them the opportunity to be involved in research, and to know that the work we are doing now will potentially positively change how patients are treated in the future.


Gemma Culverwell, Arthroplasty and Trauma Theatre Nurse

I went into nursing aged 19 after previously training as a nursery nurse but realising it wasn’t for me.

Becoming a theatre nurse is the best thing that could have happened to me. Where else are you in the uniquely privileged position to provide your patients with the undivided attention of a whole theatre team, from support workers to consultants, all supporting each other to provide the patient with optimum care?

Each day has set routine, but there is a lot of variety within that. You could be working as a scrub nurse, circulating nurse and escort nurse all within one day. Everything revolves around the patients and providing them with excellent nursing care, from those needing a minor procedure to those requiring emergency care. To me, it’s the best profession in the world – we get to come to work and make a real difference to patients’ lives.

My nan is my biggest fan and after I graduated she would tell anyone who would listen ‘our Gemma is a nurse, a qualified one.’ I used to love this and ten years later, it still makes me smile. I love my job and I love being able to provide patients with the best possible care.



Deanne Driscoll, Innovation and Technology Lead Nurse

I had originally planned to join the RAF as a nurse to follow in my Dad’s footsteps, but life happened and I ended up staying put in Yorkshire and applying for my nurse training in Sheffield. I didn’t particularly see myself as the academic type but thought nursing would be an opportunity to do something worthwhile whilst also being practical at the same time. No-one else in my family had ever gone to University so I was the first.

In my current role I work as Innovation and Technology Lead Nurse. This is a role with a very broad remit. I work closely with Informatics and Nurse Directors to provide specialised advice and leadership for the Trust as it continues with its ‘Transforming Through Technology’ programme, and engage Nursing and Midwifery staff in future technological developments.

The post is such an exciting and rewarding job as it’s a real opportunity to make a difference and shape the future of how we care for our patients through the use of technology. My aim is to make working lives for nurses easier and more efficient. I work with some great people and we aspire to making Sheffield Teaching Hospitals one of the top performing hospitals in terms of how we use technology to improve patient care, enable nurses to spend more time with patients and their relatives and in turn aid and improve communication.

I have been a nurse for 24 years, experiencing the roles of Staff Nurses, Sister, Matron, Deputy Nurse Director and now a corporate role. I like to think that I have provided excellent care for patients over the years and made a positive difference to people’s lives.

Christina Herbert, Lead Nurse Safeguarding Adults

My childhood career aspiration was always to be a nurse, despite coming from a family of teachers. I was closely followed into nursing by my sister and other family members have since forged careers in the NHS.

I have been a nurse for over 35 years and have fond memories of my nurse training, the excitement of passing my final exams and of starting my first post as a qualified nurse.

Nursing has given me opportunities to enhance my clinical and professional knowledge as a general nurse in a large teaching hospital and in the community as a Health Visitor, Practice Educator and as a manager.

Providing patients with the best possible care, compassion and attention when they are at their most vulnerable is something that makes the job worthwhile no matter what the outcome of their illness might be.

In my current role as Lead Nurse for Safeguarding Adults, I offer advice and support to staff and managers to help keep vulnerable individuals safe from all forms of abuse and neglect.

I am proud to be a nurse and to represent the nursing profession. There have been challenges along the way, but my commitment to my patients and to upholding the 6 Cs (care, compassion, competence, communication, courage, commitment) core nursing values that represent what nursing is about has never wavered.

Pauline McDonald, Arthroplasty Clinical Nurse Specialist

I am currently working as an Arthroplasty Clinical Nurse Specialist at the Northern General Hospital, a role which I have been doing since June 2016.

I am enjoying this post because of the close contact with patients. I follow patients who have had hip and knee replacements throughout their care pathway, from pre-op to discharge, and develop a good relationship with them and their relatives. I provide specialist advice and support them with any problems.

We have a helpline as well, so that even after patients have been discharged they can ring up and speak to me if they have any questions or concerns, and I also provide education to staff.
My parents were Jamaican and came to England in 1960. I was born in England and have a bit of a Yorkshire accent.

I started my nurse training as a pupil nurse in October 1979, then I worked on Ward J2 which was an ophthalmic ward until 1985, then I moved to ward G1 which was an orthopaedic ward. I developed my career in orthopaedics and completed my enrolled nurse conversion course to a registered general nurse.

I feel proud to work as part of team that strives to provide good care for patients and their relatives.


Jessica Pearson, Staff Nurse

I always knew I wanted to work with people from a young age, which stemmed from spending a lot of my childhood with my Nan. Towards the end of her life, me and my mum cared for her increasingly. We spent a lot of time in the Emergency Department (ED), Acute Medical Unit (AMU) and inpatient settings, and it was whilst my Nan was receiving care in the ED department that I knew I wanted to be a nurse.

Watching the nurses give compassionate care in such an acute setting mesmerized me. I applied to university to study adult nursing and it went from there.

I applied for a job at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals as a newly qualified staff nurse and accepted a job in gastroenterology, working in the Hadfield Wing of the Northern General. I had never worked in gastroenterology before. It’s a fast paced ward often caring for acutely unwell patients. Every day I learn new skills and continue to develop my knowledge.

I’ve enjoying every aspect of my nursing career so far, from being a student to the transition to qualified staff nurse. I love the variety of people I have met and love the opportunities nursing has offered me. When I’m at work I aim to provide good quality care and treat patients how I would want to be treated.

I like to think that I have made a difference to patients’ experiences even if only small. It might be the medication I have given to help with pain, it might have been the smile I give when passing by, and it might just be taking the time to listen. I’m proud to make a difference and proud to provide compassionate care to patients and families in need.

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