I first thought about nursing when I was a teenager. I had just dropped out of a performing arts and sociology degree after changing my mind, but couldn’t really fix on what to do next.
I toyed with the idea of nursing then, but the timing wasn’t right. I ended up doing a succession of jobs – sale co-ordinator, service desk co-ordinator, carer in a nursing home and even pub landlady!
It was while I was working in the pub one morning, preparing a load of fried breakfasts, that I suddenly thought ‘I really need to do something more with my life’.
I sat down and started Googling university courses and one came up for children’s nursing. I had always loved children so I thought I would find out more. I ended up on a paediatric nursing course in London.
My mum was a Julia’s House community fundraiser and I had been a volunteer so I already knew quite a lot about the charity. I registered myself as a bank carer and once I was qualified became a bank nurse.
The more care sessions I did, the more I enjoyed – I could see being part of Julia’s House wasn’t going to be like any nursing I had experienced before.
Where else would you get the chance to organise a massive wheelchair water fight as part of your working day?
Creating these wonderful memories for children and parents is such a joy. The mental health and emotional wellbeing of the families I support is as important as any physical care their child might need.
I love the whole holistic side to Julia’s House, building relationships with not just the poorly children, but mums and dads, aunts and uncles, grandparents, siblings, everyone involved in the life and care of that child.
There is no such thing as a typical day. I could be planning a care review, doing a play session, administering emergency medication to a child having a seizure, helping a family facing the end of a child’s life or just chatting to a mum who needs a friendly face to turn to. The more I know the family, know the child, the more able and confident I am in supporting them.
Anyone thinking of becoming a paediatric nurse or changing jobs should come and visit Julia’s House and not be put off by the idea that it is a scary place. I am always amazed that coping with the death of a child is the part of the job everyone focuses on and yet there is so, so much more to being a Julia’s House nurse.
For the first time in my life I don’t dread coming to work - I have finally found my perfect career!