Tell us a little about your professional background. Why did you choose a career in nursing?

Nursing actually wasn’t my first career choice – I wanted to be a vet! Unfortunately, I didn’t come from a “background” that went to university. I knew that nursing would be a career for life and I had an interest in health issues and health science subjects so I decided to train as a nurse (RGN).  Little did I know at that stage that a nursing path would involve going to university later in life…

I qualified as a Registered Nurse in 1986 and worked in Pontefract Infirmary until 1988, before starting midwifery training. While working as a midwife, I saw that the teenage pregnancy rates were increasing – something which spurred my interest in health promotion and I decided I was ready for a new challenge! As a pathway into public health work, I studied for a BSc (Hons) Community Health Care Nursing-Health Visiting in Leeds. This qualification allowed me to get out in the community, visiting schools to teach young people about sexual health and preventing pregnancy/STI’s. This work led me into the post of Sexual Health  Outreach Nurse for young people and into my current role.

Can you give an overview of your responsibilities?

My duties include:

  • Assessment, testing, diagnosis and treatment of STI’s
  • Provision of contraception including fitting/removing implants and fitting/removing intra uterine contraception
  • Non- medical prescriber
  • Management of the outreach aspect of the service
  • Management of WISH staff and the clinical area
  • Safeguarding supervisor and provision of supervision and advice for staff
  • Training students and new members of staff

Since I have been working in sexual health, I’ve been continually developing my skills. I have also done the STIF competencies course (BASHH), cervical cytology, NMP qualification, Letter of Competence for the fitting/removal of the sub dermal contraceptive implant, fitting of intra uterine devices, safeguarding supervisor’s course (NSPCC), Teaching and Assessing in Clinical Practice (the “old” ENB 998) and  also plan to develop microscopy skills.

What do you most enjoy about working in sexual health?

Every day is different, I have never worked in an area where there is such diversity. I work with a good, supportive team. The work is interesting and the learning never stops.

Can you describe some of the challenges you face?

Staffing levels can be a challenge, and  managing patient demand whilst maintaining patient and staff safety.

Do you have any professional role models? Who inspires you?

There have been many role models over the years during my nursing career. I think I’ve tried to emulate certain aspects of different role models, hopefully the best parts! My children inspire me, they have a good work ethic and that makes me proud.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in nursing today?

Have an open mind, be non-judgmental, don’t expect an easy ride – the pace is fast and can be emotionally tiring. Have a good sense of humour and have a passion for learning.