Julie Kelly has worked as a nursing assistant at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) for a year.
After working as a merchandiser for a number of years, Julie found herself working part time in the shop at St Nicholas Hospital in Gosforth.
Whilst there, Julie ran competitions for patients at the hospital. Nearly every week she would be asking people to guess the sweets in the jar, take part in quizzes or design their own football strip.
It was these competitions and the interactions with patients that Julie loved and led her to applying for a job as a nursing assistant.
“People in the shop would always say that I was really good with the patients and asked if I had thought about going into nursing,” Julie said. “I thought I may as well give it a try and it’s been the best move I ever made.”
Being a nursing assistant allows Julie to interact with patients and really get to know each individual and their needs. Julie works on Gibside ward, part of CNTW’s Regional Affective Disorders Inpatient Service (RADS). RADS is one of a limited number of specialist affective disorder services in the UK providing care for patients with difficult to treat mood disorders.
A typical day for Julie starts with a handover followed by assisting the nurses with taking the patients’ blood pressure. She might then go out with the patients, encouraging them to take part in daily activities.
The job is not without its challenges. “When a patient first comes on to the ward it can be difficult to engage with them and get them to do things,” Julie explained.
“But it’s an extremely rewarding job and I just love being with the patients.”
Although aspects of the job can be difficult, Julie says she is able to overcome any difficulties thanks the continuous support of her team.
“The nurses are really helpful and I feel like I’m always learning from them,” she said. “The team always supports me to improve and do well.”
For Julie, one of the best things about the job is its location and thing that stands out the most about the North East and North Cumbria is how friendly everyone is.
She added: “You can’t walk down the corridor at St Nicholas Hospital without people smiling and saying good morning to you.”
The close proximity to Newcastle and its shops and nightlife and the career opportunities are also a bonus for Julie.
Her advice for anyone thinking about a career in nursing would be to simply give it a try. She said: “I completely changed my career to become a nursing assistant and have never looked back. I would recommend it to anyone.”