Emergency Nurse, Selena
Now more than ever, our doctors, nurses and frontline staff should be celebrated for the hard work they do every single day. That’s why we’re talking to Selena about why she does what she does…
In a nutshell, what do you do?
I work as an Emergency Nurse in London.
Can you tell us what your day-to-day is like?
Well, no two days are the same! But I work three to four days a week, in 12 hour shifts, so from 8am to 8pm. It may seem like a long shift but trust me, the time goes very quickly… it’s a fast-paced job and keeps you on your toes!
At the beginning of the shift, I’m given an overview of the previous shift, how many patients have been seen, how many patients are awaiting beds and any important clinical changes. For example, have there been any changes with PPE (personal protective equipment) or any changes to public health. As you can imagine with the current situation, there are daily and even hourly changes so I have to be up to date.
I’m then allocated where I need to work for the day. This could be minor injuries, majors, resus or paediatrics. Once allocated I’ll go to my area and receive a handover, with details on the patients in the department. And of course, a quick gossip with my colleagues as we all become friends very quickly!
Once the formalities are complete, I can then properly start the day. You never know what is going to come through the door so you always try and be prepared but trust me, you can never be fully prepared! Foreign objects in places that they shouldn’t be, DIY medical treatments at home, shootings, stabbings, heart attacks, strokes, respiratory problems, road traffic accidents, suicide attempts, mental health issues. The list goes on but this is why I do what I do. No day is ever the same and I work with some of the most incredible people who inspire me daily.
What do you love most about your job?
Each day I learn something new. I’m never expected to know everything so asking for help is something that’s encouraged, and I’m constantly asking questions and learning. It’s a great feeling.
What do you find most challenging?
There are many challenges; relatives who are upset or frustrated with wait times. Someone who is your age and has been involved in a trauma, or even just the fast pace of the job. It can feel as though you’re chasing your tail.
The patients never stop coming in, but you have to be on the ball and ensure that your patients are safe. At the end of the shift, I sometimes feel as though I’ve not achieved anything and feel really deflated because it has been so busy. But that’s why looking after mental health is so key in my line of work.
What did you see yourself doing when you were a kid?
I think like us all, I had so many ideas. I thought about being a judge, a pilot and a travel writer.
What challenges did you face in reaching where you are today?
I wasn’t always the most academic and I really struggled with maths and grammar. It’s only been in later life that a friend of mine, who is a lecturer, picked up that I might be dyslexic, which makes a lot of sense.
At university I struggled with some assignments and I don’t think I asked for enough help as I was embarrassed. But, I passed and got to where I am now! But I do sometimes wonder if I hadn’t been embarrassed and asked for more help, maybe I would have got a distinction instead of just a pass!
Now you can’t stop me from asking for help!
If you weren’t a nurse, what do you think you’d be?
My job has allowed me to travel the world. I’ve worked on cruise ships, I’ve worked on building sites, I’ve done nursing repatriation work. I have a career for life and it has so much flexibility that I can’t think of another career that can bring me this, and I enjoy it, which is the most important thing.
Where do you see yourself going next?
I would love to do some humanitarian work or expedition medicine. I have completed a Tropical Nursing diploma so maybe next will be a diploma in Expedition Medicine!
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first left school?
School wasn’t easy for me. But I learnt that you need to forge your own path in life and make it the best experience you can. I also know that school doesn’t make you who you are and you are constantly growing in life.
What advice would you give to someone interested in joining your industry?
Do it! You can dictate your career path. You don’t have to work in a hospital setting if you don’t want to. You can make it your own and it is one of the most rewarding jobs. Yes, you see sadness but you also see such joy. Every day you will make someone smile.
What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve been given?
Only you can make your future.
What quote do you live by?
It’s cliché but: ‘You only live once and so take every opportunity. We all make mistakes, life would be boring if we didn’t but never have regrets. Our time is short so make it amazing!’