Publish date: 9 May 2024

This Sunday, 12 May, is International Nurses Day, an opportunity to shine a light on this incredible group of colleagues at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals and across the wider NHS.

Recent data showed that in November 2023, there were more than 370,000 nurses and midwives working in the NHS in England.

To help celebrate, a number of nurses from across the Trust have spoken of their experiences and what colleagues can expect when looking to become a nurse in the modern NHS.

BTH nurse Alison Ahmed
Alison Ahmed

Clinical Skills Facilitator Alison Ahmed has worked as a nurse for 18 years and said: “Knowing I can make a difference to someone's life gives me a great sense of achievement and happiness.”

Emma Sharples is Clinical Improvement Lead for the Trust’s Families and Integrated Community Care division. She has also worked as a District Nurse for 25 years across Lancashire and South Cumbria.

Emma explained what nursing means to her: “Being a Nurse means playing an incredible role in our patient’s journey. We as nurses strive to show compassion, empathy, and sensitivity to patients.

It can often mean being there for a total stranger.

“Being a community nurse is about enabling patients to remain independent in their own homes and we can often see the tangible effects of care and support we give to our patients.”

Elsewhere in the Trust, Michaela Bradshaw is a Practice Development Sister for Internationally Educated Nurses, and has worked as a nurse for 25 years. She said that anyone becoming a nurse should be prepared to experience 'the highest highs' and 'lowest lows' of their lives but that they will make friends for life 'with bonds that can never be broken'.

Michaela added: "Being a nurse makes me incredibly proud. It is also a privilege to be welcomed into our patients lives, becoming part of their family for a short period of time. Helping and caring for them when they are their most vulnerable and scared, giving reassurance, comfort and care to them and to their loved ones - helping patients through some of the toughest moments of their lives. Being a nurse is a true vocation."

Stephen Preston works as a Research Nurse Manager for the Trust and has been a nurse for 20 years. He said that, to him, nursing means: "Improving the Health of the nation through clinical trials, raising quality and benchmarking care for our patients."

Nurse Marie Lois Abayan
Marie Lois Abayan

Marie Lois Abayan is a sister in Ward 38 at Blackpool Victoria Hospital. She has worked as a nurse for 12 years including five in the Philippines and seven in the UK so far. She explained: “Being a nurse is not just having the qualifications but the determination to be one! A nurse is someone that looks after and understands a person when they are at their weakest moment.”

Stephanie Pellatt is Assistant Divisional Director of Nursing for the Trust’s Tertiary Division. She started in the profession as a care assistant in a local care home aged 16, and once she started training as a nurse in 2010 with Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, has never looked back.

She said: “There are a couple of quotes I came across which I think describe perfectly what it means to be a nurse: ‘Nurses dispense comfort, compassion and care without even a prescription’ and ‘Save one life you are a hero. Save a hundred lives, you're a nurse.’”

Joanne Gregory, Medical Devices Nurse Specialist, has worked as a nurse for 21 years. She said that nursing is a wide ranging and flexible profession with different opportunities to specialise. She explained: "I began in learning disabilities but have worked within the acute Trust sine 2006 in an entirely different role specialising in device management and training. Fundamentally in whatever role we perform as a nurse, people lie at the heart of what we do and as such for me that opportunity brings the core values I hold and cherish to the fore."

Emma Sharples.jpeg
Emma Sharples

Recruiting nurses is a key priority for the NHS nationally, and is a profession that offers a wealth of opportunities. Emma Sharples shared her advice with anyone looking to start a career in nursing: “You will need to have a strong desire to help others. You must be able to handle stress well and have a good sense of humour,”

She added: “Nursing is an innovative, challenging and rewarding career - I have enjoyed every minute of my career.”

Stephanie Pellatt added: “Nursing is not only a profession but a family. Coming into the nursing family will give you the tools and opportunity to care, to be compassionate, to be patient and to find strength you didn't know existed. There won't be a day that will go by that you won't learn something new and the ability to positively impact your patient and their loved one's health journey is an immeasurable reward.”

Alison Ahmed said the profession is rewarding despite its challenges: “It's not always the easiest of careers, with lots of ups and downs, but without a shadow of a doubt, it is the most rewarding. I've loved every minute of my career so far and becoming a nurse is a decision you won't regret.”

Nurse Stephanie Pellatt
Stephanie Pellatt

Joanne Gregory added that anyone thinking of a career in nursing should 'go for it': "It is always varied and challenging. There are highs and lows, but you will experience job satisfaction and a sense of fulfilment in the role you take on, and above all you are not limited in what you do as a nurse, nor in the directions you take within your career."

And Stephen Preston said people should consider which speciality they would like to pursue: "Nursing is a demanding career with a variety of shift patterns and specialities. Take your time to chose which speciality you feel would be best suited to you, but remember nursing is 365 days a year 24 hours a day."

For more information on careers in the NHS, click here to visit the NHS Careers website.