Changing Career Paths - Karen’s Story

A career change is something that many of us may explore during our lifetime and is something that Lymphoedema volunteer, Karen Ashtinai, has embarked upon.

After spending 10 years working as Head of Marketing at design studio, Atomhawk Design, Karen felt like it was time for a change. She is hoping to start a Speech and Language Therapy degree at Newcastle University in 2023 and so wanted to spend some time volunteering in a clinical environment.

Karen started volunteering with our specialist Lymphoedema Service in May. Talking about her experience, Karen said: “I was unsure of what to expect at first, as it’s very different to my previous role in marketing! Everyone here has been very supportive and kind, so I quickly grew in confidence knowing there was a strong support network there for me.”

Karen added:  “St Oswald’s Hospice is nothing like I thought it would be. It’s a very happy and joyous place. I love meeting the patients, some who I see week after week and have started to build relationships with. I help with washing the patient’s limbs, applying creams and providing support to patients and the clinical practitioners.

“Every week here is different. For example, I’ve been on home visits for patients that are quite poorly. This is a unique experience as it gives me a greater understanding of working with the different types of patients.”

“Working alongside other volunteers has been great as you get to learn about their stories. A lot of them are hoping to study medicine at university, so volunteering at St Oswald’s Hospice is a great place to start if you are hoping to start a career in health care.

“The clinical team has also been fantastic! They are never too busy to answer your questions. I would certainly recommend volunteering with St Oswald’s Hospice to anyone. It’s a great way to build your skills, experience and you can make some great memories along the way!”

We would like to say a huge thank you to Karen for sharing her story and all she does for the Lymphoedema team! 

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