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NSCG Celebrates 75th Anniversary of the NHS

On Wednesday 5 July, the NHS celebrates it's 75th anniversary and with over 350 careers to choose from, we spoke to just three of our teaching staff who have had successful careers in a variety of nursing roles. Here, they chat to us about the skills and qualities needed to work in the NHS, and how they are now sharing their knowledge and expertise with our health and social care learners at NSCG.


How long did you work in the NHS for and in what role?

I was a midwife for 18 years in various roles, including rotational midwife, breastfeeding link midwife, parent education lead midwife, community midwife, Oak Team continuity midwife and midwifery lecturer on BSc at Staffordshire University.

Who/what inspired you to choose a career in the health sector?

My midwife during my labour inspired me to pursue a career in midwifery. She was so patient, kind, caring and compassionate during my incredibly long and arduous labour. I wasn’t very coherent with the pain relief and overwhelming fatigue, but the one thing I remember was her smile and kind eyes when she looked at me and cared for me. Even when I went to theatre for my C-Section the thing that kept me calm on the operating table was her face looking down at me from the end of the bed, smiling eyes above her face mask, reassuring and calming. I can see her now in my mind, she made such a difference to my transition to motherhood J

What skills and qualities do you need to work in such a demanding role?

Resilience is essential, as is patience, empathy, compassion, courage, competence, good communication and adaptability. You need the knowledge and skills to be an expert in normality and clinically astute to deviations from normal. You need to be able to balance the demands of the role and your own life – self-care is vital!

Describe a typical day as a midwife?

A typical day depends on the midwife's role and position. As a continuity midwife my day typically started at 7:30am, unless I’d been called out overnight to attend a birth, in which case I’d either still be there or trying to catch up on some sleep at home. I’d start by checking my own and my colleague’s diaries whilst I waited for the kettle to boil to make my first coffee of the day. I’d check if our on call midwives had been out overnight at a birth, if anyone was still out at a birth, who needed relief so that they could go home to sleep, what antenatal and postnatal visits did we have as a team that day and who was available to do what i.e. relief, on calls day / night, home visits, clinics. I’d also check my phone for voicemails and text messages and action them.

Once the logistics of the day were determined, I’d pop my uniform on, check my bags to make sure I’d got everything I needed for the day in the boot of my car and set off for the day. That might mean going to relieve my midwife colleague at a birth at home or in the hospital so she could rest, or it might be to make a start on the visits for the day, or it might be to go and cover a colleague’s clinic, or go to the hospital to restock my kit.

Days were planned to a degree so the needs of our women were met but labour and birth is unpredictable so we always had to be ready to attend a birth and re-arrange our plans within the small Oak Team if one of our own ladies needed us. The days were varied and busy and we often worked over our hours, particularly when caring for our labouring / birthing women as we were passionate about them having that continuity of Midwife. We would have to think about safety and the requirement to remain clinically astute to any deviations from normal so would hand over to our Oak Buddy Colleagues when over 12 hours on duty.

What are your top tips for anyone looking to pursue a career in midwifery?

Be aware of the current issues within maternity care i.e. continuity of carer and better births, staffing crisis! Read Midwifery Journals and be up to date with the news around maternity care. Be passionate about care for women and the impact that midwives can make to their transition to motherhood, empowering and advocating for women. Make sure you have strategies in place for self-care! This is a vocation, not a job! Sometimes being a midwife can be all consuming when you care so much about what you do so it’s vital that there is balance to prevent burn out!

Jemma Lunt

Health and Social Care Lecturer at Newcastle College, Jemma Lunt completed her nursing training in her late 20's and gained specialist skills as a Learning Disability Nurse, both in hospitals and out in the community.

What attracted you to a career in nursing?

I’d always been interested in a career in nursing and so when I left school I enrolled on a nursing diploma at Keele University. I completed a year of my training and then due to family circumstances I was unable to finish my training. I continued to work in care until I was in my late 20’s and then I completed an Access course and applied to Keele University to study Learning Disability Nursing.

How long did you work in the NHS for?

I worked in the NHS on and off for about 6 years. My roles included both in-patient and community nursing. My last role was with the Intensive Support Team where I supported individuals who were at risk of a hospital admission, we provided intense support in the community to reduce the need for a hospital stay.

What attracted you to specialise as a Learning Disability Nurse in particular?

At primary school there was a boy in my class who had Down's Syndrome. The class would support him and from then I’ve always wanted to work with individuals with learning disabilities. Learning disability nurses work in a holistic way caring for individuals' physical and mental health and working in this way is something that I am really passionate about.

What qualities and skills are needed to work in nursing?

To work in nursing you need to be good at multitasking! You need to be caring, compassionate, have super communication skills, you need to be able to manage your time effectively, you need to work in a team and be able to think on your feet.

What would your advice be to anyone looking to embark on a career in nursing?

To work in nursing you need to be passionate and committed. Nursing is a vocation it’s not a 9-5 job that you can switch off from and because of this you need to dedicated to your work. Nursing is a real privilege we get to work with people from all walks of life who are often at their most vulnerable. I feel lucky to have worked as a nurse and now in my role at NSCG I get to share my experiences with students, many of who will be the future of the NHS.


Jemma Kent

Health and Social Care Placement Officer at Newcastle College, Jemma Kent began her career as a Teaching Assistant before completing an apprenticeship and Foundation Degree to qualify as a Registered Nurse Associate. Not only does Jemma support NSCG learners on placement, but still finds the time to work as a bank nurse in the NHS.

What attracted you to a career in nursing?

I worked as a Teaching Assistant for many years within special education. Although I was a Teaching Assistant I skilled up to support pupils with complex needs. I found a passion and interest for care specifically those with complex medical needs. I decided to explore this and gain a role within paediatrics at UHNM as a Nursing Assistant.

Did you go to university or train on the job?

I enrolled onto an apprenticeship through UHNM. Studying one day a week at Keele University, gaining a Foundation Degree for Nursing Associates.

Tell us about your role in the NHS as a Registered Nurse Associate?

The Nurse Associate role is a new role within the NHS. The role was developed to bridge the gap between health support workers and nurses. I am a registered professional with the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council).

Who/what inspired your to choose a career in nursing?

I have worked with many families over the years and these families have inspired me to pursue this role.

You still work in the NHS alongside working a NSCG. What is an average day on a ward within your department?

I still work with the nurse bank and pick up shifts occasionally on the paediatric wards, this is to ensure I am keeping my skills and knowledge up to date.

Ward days are busy (I love a busy shift!) We start by having a handover of the all the patients currently admitted. Typically this is a general overview to their planned care. The patients are then allocated which is usually 4-5 patients per nurse.

I start the day by looking over the folders and medical notes, checking the prescription charts. I make a plan and prioritise the workload. I go into each patient- introduce myself and speak about the plan for the day (talking of any investigations, asking if there are any queries). At the same time I am looking at my patient checking their condition and ensure there hasn’t been any change since handover. We ask lots of questions to gain a big picture and to build a rapport with the patient and family. When I go into each patient I am also looking at the environment, is it safe? Should there be an emergency, is there oxygen or is the suction on the wall working?

For parents/carers having a child admitted to the ward can be an overwhelming and stressful time. In paediatrics you look after not only the patient but the family too and this is so rewarding.

How does your experience working in the NHS help in your current role as a placement officer for NSCG’s health and social care learners?

I left college having completed Health and Social Care myself. I wasn’t 100% what I wanted to do other than working with children. I went to Manchester Metropolitan initially going down the teaching route. I found this wasn’t for me and I decided to gain work experience. This is where my career started. This experience was essential in my development. I am a big advocate for work experience and the journey I have been on to gain the knowledge, experience and skills I now have has certainly lent itself to the role as a placement officer in health.

Work experience helps you to find out more about yourself and to find out what inspires you. There are so many benefits. The one thing I tell all students is to take this opportunity now to explore all the possible career options.

What would your advice be to anyone looking to embark on a career in nursing?

Nursing is a difficult job but one that is rewarding. I would tell anyone interested to go and gain some experience in the hospital first, see if it’s for you. If you gain a role within the NHS then there are lots of development opportunities including apprenticeships.

Tracey Price

Stafford College Health and Social Care Lecturer, Tracey Price is another of our expert midwives who has vast experience of midwifery, having worked in many areas of the field.

What attracted you to work in the NHS?

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a midwife. I didn’t take a direct route, I worked in the civil service for a number of years. When the opportunity arose I went to university as a mature student to study midwifery. This meant that I didn’t have the usual qualifications. Following 3 years of juggling full time study and full time work placements and 3 young children I realised my dream and became a qualified midwife. The years that followed consisted of highs and lows but I never doubted my decision.Following qualification I rotated through different departments, working in Delivery Suite, Ante Natal, Post Natal wards and Triage. During my training I found I really enjoyed working in the community. When an opportunity arose I transferred to work on a Midwife Led Unit which involved facilitating low risk births on the midwife led unit, conducting antenatal clinics, doing postnatal visits. I worked closely with families at a special time in their lives.


Describe a typical day as a community midwife.

A typical day would include organising my workload for the day, ensuring my bag had all the equipment required for the day. Checking blood results, making phone calls as required. I leave to do my visits and conduct my GP clinics in the community. Once complete I would return to the office to send my blood and urine samples to the labs. Check my notes, do my filing. Answer any messages left for me, chase any outstanding results. I would also conduct new bookings at the end of the day or parent education classes. I would also be on call 3 times a month to cover the unit if extra staff was needed and any home births that occurred overnight

What would you say are the key qualities to be a community midwife?

As a midwife you need to have many skills these include being a good listener, good communication skills, able to work alone and as part of a team, empathetic, resilient, flexible, organised, the hands of a lady, the eyes of a hawk and the heart of a lion.

Why did you decide to work in teaching?As part of my job I conducted parent craft classes and mentored students, here is where I discovered I enjoyed teaching whether its new parents or students. I realised that I could pass on my knowledge and engage learners.


Lisa Groom

Stafford College Health and Social Care Lecturer, Lisa Groom worked in the NHS as a midwife supported pregnant women and new mums in a variety of roles. She now inspires our future generation of midwives at Stafford College, sharing her knowledge and experiences with our learners.

Tell us about your career in the NHS.

I began training as a midwife in 2007, achieving a degree and qualifying in 2010. During my 15 year career, my roles included working on the consultant unit delivery suite as a midwife, high risk postnatal ward midwife, community midwife, midwife led unit midwife and theatre midwife. Therefore I cared for women, babies and their families throughout the whole childbearing journey.

Why did you choose to train to be a midwife?

The reason I chose this career path was due to my passion for caring, which I had experience in prior to applying to university. I also had a keen interest in reproductive biology so it was the perfect choice for me.

How demanding is the role of a midwife?The role of a midwife is undeniably a demanding one, both physically, cognitively and emotionally. Being an NHS midwife demands long, busy hours on shift, mostly on your feet. You are constantly thinking about what your patients’ needs are, with their needs and requirements often changing. Emotionally, as a midwife, you will experience happy, exhilarating times, but also quite distressing and desperately sad times.

And the most rewarding aspect of midwifery?

Without doubt, being a midwife is the most rewarding career. There is nothing more fulfilling than caring for and supporting a woman and her family during one of the most vulnerable, scary and worrying times in her life.

What skills and attributes are required to be a midwife?

To anyone leaving school thinking about midwifery as an option in the future, you will need to be a great communicator, an amazing team member and a caring and empathetic individual, who can be an incredible advocate for women.

Sarah Cummings

Health and Social Care lecturer, Sarah spent many years working in the NHS as a Children's Nurse and Health Visitor before joining Stafford College. She now spends her time nurturing and developing the future workforce of the NHS.

How long did you work in the NHS for?

I worked in the NHS for from 2004-2021.

Why did you decide to train to be a Children’s Nurse and Health Visitor?

I always knew that I wanted to work with children and babies and had originally looked to go into midwifery; however, children’s nursing was the career I decided upon and completed a diploma in Children’s Nursing in 2001-2004. I then spent 4 years working on a children’s ward where I looked after many children and babies of all different ages, conditions and acute/chronic illnesses.

From here, I went to work as an Immunisation Nurse to roll out the “new” HVP vaccine programme giving me a taste of working in a brand new team and working out in the community.

Loving the community role, I then stepped into a temporary school nurse role, and then following this worked as a staff nurse in a Health Visiting team. I really enjoyed doing this and from here, I was seconded to complete my Specialist Public Health Degree in Health Visiting.

Once completing this, I worked as a Health Visitor for 10 years and had the opportunity to work with many different service users, with lots of different needs, cultures and ethnic backgrounds, supporting families to achieve the best outcomes in life.

Between these roles, I also worked for a year as a continuing care nurse for The CCG, whereby I assessed children with complex health needs and set up packages of care with outside providers.


Who/what inspired you to choose a career in the health sector?

A lady named Wendy King, came to my rescue when I wasn’t quite sure what path to take, guiding me into children’s nursing- an area which ticked the boxes of working with babies and children and something I didn’t really think at 17 years old existed in the nursing world.

What skills and qualities do you need to work in such a demanding role?

Teamwork, patience, prioritising work, a way to de-stress/relax, aiming to maintain a work life balance. Good communication, compassion, caring and kindness.

Describe a typical day as a health visitor.

A typical day starts with gathering records for service users and the necessary equipment required to complete the visits being undertaken that day, such as scales, height and weight measures. Each visit could be for a different type of need or assessment’s such as a new baby review to family that do not speak any English, to a 2 year development review to a family with 8 children living in a 3 bedroom house. The role very much covers, advice, assessment, referrals, support, health promotion, and meeting public health outcomes.

What are your top tips for anyone looking to pursue a career in nursing or health visiting.

See if you can speak to anyone already in the role or spend some time with a person carrying out this role. Do your research on the role, think about the shifts and work patterns requirements.

Remember there are so many different areas to purse and career pathways to follow when you enter a nursing a career so do not think there is only one pathway.