Clinical Nurse Specialist, St. George's Park, Morpeth

melanie smiling

Clinical nurse specialist Melanie Hyman has worked in inpatient services in Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) for 20 years.

Having started in the old acute hospital at St George’s Park in Morpeth, Melanie has had a number of roles throughout her career, from male, female acute, rehab and PICU wards.

“I’ve found working in different areas allows you to grow as a nurse and develop skills,” she explained.
“Each role I have moved to I’ve done an acting role, which although you don’t need to, it did allow me to step into a new role, try it out and see if I was ready so to speak! There are always opportunities in inpatient services if you’re looking to try something new.”

After a number of roles, Melanie moved into ward management. Often known as the bridge between board and ward, Melanie hoped working as a ward manager would allow her to be influential on a different level.
She spent 10 years as a ward manager on different wards within the Trust, before wanting to go in a different direction.

“I was ready for a change, a more clinical focus, but knew I wanted to stay within inpatients,” she said. “It’s my passion, it’s the A&E of mental health. You’re working with people at their most unwell and learn how to support people’s recovery in a restrictive environment.

“You can make such a difference and you get to see patients return home or back to the community which is so rewarding” Always striving to progress, Melanie applied for an apprenticeship in advanced clinical practice through the University of Sunderland. Thanks to CNTW and the support of her Clinical Business Unit, she is able to do the course alongside working on the wards which will help enable services to provide nurse-led care.

The course also fits in with her desire to invest in the development of junior staff. She added: “By creating the clinical nurse specialist post within our acute inpatient service, junior staff can now see a path they can progress to from a clinical perspective, which hadn’t been done before.”

For Melanie, there are some challenges working on an inpatient ward, for example the busyness. “At times nurses can see this as having fewer opportunities to engage with patients but with some creativity and making space within daily ward routines this can be overcome. Any challenges that we face are far outweighed by the positives of working within inpatient services.

“There’s never been a day where I’ve thought I’d wished I was doing something else,” she said.

“Being able to work with patients and their families is so rewarding. People in inpatient services have often had their liberties taken away, we act as their voice and we have to let them be heard.”

Melanie has some advice for those interested in working on an inpatient ward, “I would say talk to staff and see what opportunities there are. If you’re thinking about it, let us know. There are so many different roles you can do and we will find something that plays to everyone’s strengths.

“We know no service is perfect and there are always things that we can be doing better. We welcome new staff coming in with new and innovative ideas.”