Assistant practitioner Julie Thompson embarked on a career change after doing bank shifts in nursing and discovering she had a passion for care.
Having worked in several admin roles within the NHS, including HR and recruitment, Julie moved to Walkergate Park nearly three years ago.
Part of Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), a provider of mental health and learning disability services, Walkergate Park is a centre for neurorehabilitation and neuropsychiatry.
Walkergate Park helps people with a disability caused by injury or disease affecting the brain, spinal cord or muscles. It was during her time working on bank shifts that Julie found she preferred neuro nursing.
Since leaving her desk for the wards, Julie has completed a foundation degree and is now one year into a three-year Registered Nursing Apprenticeship Degree. As part of the apprenticeship, she is doing placements across the Trust alongside her current role at Walkergate Park.
While juggling her apprenticeship and work can be difficult to manage, Julie says it’s worth it for the new skills and career progression it promises.
The degrees isn’t the only training Julie has done with CNTW; she has also participated in a leadership development programme and is the Talk 1st lead on her ward, encouraging staff and service users to engage in meaningful activities.
Julie said: “The teams are really supportive and there are plenty of opportunities to develop at CNTW. I’ve always been encouraged to develop my skills.
“The ward can be really busy but I love a challenge. The best thing about working in rehab is that you get to see people reach their rehab goals to achieve the best quality life possible, enabling them to manage their condition.
“Sometimes people can come into the ward with not much hope and rehab can help them achieve their goals. There’s nothing better than seeing someone progress.”
Originally from a small village in the North East, Julie moved to Newcastle seven years ago and loves the vibrancy of the city. “I love living here,” she said.
“I like going to gigs and festivals and there’s always something going on. There are good transport links and there’s definitely lots more career opportunities here too.
“If I could describe the region in one word, it would be energetic.”
For those interested in a career in nursing Julie says to just go for it. “I left school and didn’t know what I wanted to do so ended up in admin,” she said. “I wish I knew earlier that I would love nursing and I could have gone into the career straight away.”
For Julie, one of the best things about nursing is the opportunity to branch into different areas. She said: “There are so many opportunities to make the most out of a career in nursing. My advice would be to take every opportunity that comes your way and don’t be afraid to speak up.”