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Day in The Life of a Nurse - Michelle's story

After two ruptured discs in her back left Michelle in a wheelchair at the age of 26, it looked as though this dedicated neonatal nurse’s career was over. However, due to her indomitable enthusiasm, courage and dedication she is now – 6 years on – back at work as a Cardiac Education Nurse supporting newly qualified nurses on the two cardiac wards (neonatal and older children) at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

On a typical day Michelle will get to work at 8.00am and check her emails before starting her teaching session with 6 newly qualified nurses from the cardiac neonatal wards. The sessions are very much an interactive discussion rather than a lecture and they go over the particular defect which the nurses have been given to research in the previous session. The session usually lasts until 12.30pm and covers all aspects of nursing care, giving the new nurses the knowledge to give the best possible treatment and care to their tiny patients.

“Part of becoming a good neonatal nurse is the ability to communicate well with the babies’ parents. Getting across compassionately but effectively what the treatment will entail and the reasons for it are vital skills for these nurses to have. It’s all about building their confidence.”

The rest of Michelle’s day is taken up with visiting the cardiac wards, getting feedback from senior nurses on the progress of the new nurses which helps her plan areas she needs to concentrate on in future sessions. Whilst visiting the wards, Michelle also makes time to talk to parents and offer any support she can. Although she no longer cares directly for patients, Michelle still enjoys being a vital part of the wider nursing team.

“I still desperately miss the “hands on” nursing that I did for so many years but I still get huge satisfaction from supporting and mentoring newly qualified nurses, seeing them blossom into confident and compassionate nurses providing the best care they can.”

Outside of work, Michelle volunteers for Papyrus, a national charity for the prevention of young suicide and she has completed an ASIST training course (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training). She is also part of the Unlimited Voices choir and attends weekly practice sessions and takes part in concerts in her area.

Despite facing challenges every day, Michelle is not going to let her spinal cord injury hold her back.

“I do suffer constant pain, which varies in intensity, but I’m determined to remain in nursing for the rest of my career, in whatever form that may take.”

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