In celebration of International Nurses Day 2021, Harley Street Medical Area (HSMA) is celebrating the role of nurses. Natalie Dean, Deputy Sister at Harefield Hospital, gives us her experiences of nursing and how it changed during the pandemic.
As a nurse, the last year has been very overwhelming. Last March, I came back from maternity into a new role two weeks before the pandemic hit. Then nursing got turned on its head and I got sent to another unit. Suddenly everything changed overnight to feel like a proper pandemic.
I have been nursing for five and a half years and I truly love it. During my first training placement, which was care of the elderly, within my first hour I was sent to a help an elderly lady clean up. I felt so out of my depth but I remember thinking to myself that if I can get through this placement, then I can get through the whole three years! I did, and I ended up loving care of the elderly. Everybody loves or hates it, and if you love it then you really love it. My passion for nursing grew from there.
Now I’m 28 years old and I am the private patients deputy sister on Juniper Ward at Harefield Hospital. One of the really special things about being here is the team environment; we’ve all got each other’s backs. We see each other more than we see our own families, we all get along and make sure we look out for each other.
The type of effect that you have on the patient as a nurse is amazing. Sometimes the best moments are just talking to a patient about something they wouldn’t usually talk about. It’s those unscripted conversations where you just get to be a part of their life and have a positive impact which makes nursing so rewarding.
I think the pandemic has been one of the worst experiences’ nurses have had to go through, but I’m surprised at how many positives we have managed to draw out of each other.
There have been so many special experiences that we had throughout. When the first wave happened, normal service shut down and we were all redeployed to areas that needed us. I will always remember walking past someone from my ward in the early days of the pandemic. We were both fully donned up in PPE but they still managed to recognise me and called out my name. I was really emotional as we were jumping up and down saying “I haven’t seen you in seven days!” It wasn’t even that long! It was just so overwhelming to find your own ward person in amongst it all. So, I will always remember that.
We were sent to many different areas of the hospital, so we’ve made friends across the various units. When you share something that’s a bad experience, I think you’re just bonded for life. Harefield Hospital is quite small and I think I know someone in every department now, which is nice because it makes working here feel really personal.
Being a nurse at Harefield Hospital is so unique and special. Our hospitals, Royal Brompton and Harefield, are renowned for being centres of excellence in heart and lung care. This really does make a difference with the level of knowledge that’s expected of nurses, it is less task orientated and more evidence-based practice.
Here you are continually learning, and you’re expected to have a different level of knowledge because here there are fewer junior doctors than in a general hospital. That’s what I like about it; being a part of an expert team where everyone listens to you, especially throughout the peak of the pandemic. The consultants really value your input, in fact, everyone values each other’s input here. That’s what’s special; everyone has a right to have a say because it makes a difference to the specialist care we provide to our patients.