Nikki Walton - Year of the Nurse

Each month we are profiling one of our amazing nurses to celebrate International Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020. This year is an opportunity to say thank you to the professions; to showcase their diverse talents and expertise; and to promote nursing and midwifery as careers with a great deal to offer.

This month, meet Nikki Walton, Clinical Education Nurse:

Tell us about your current role…

I qualified in 2000 as a nurse. Having been a St John’s Ambulance cadet in my teens I always enjoyed being with people and caring for them. I started working at St Oswald’s as a staff nurse on the Adult Inpatient Unit in 2005. I’d previously worked in cancer care in a large hospital down south, so there were huge changes for me both professionally and personally.

I worked on the Inpatient Unit for ten years and first took on my role as Clinical Education Nurse as a six month secondment, looking for new challenges to expand my experience. This role is vastly different from any clinical role I’ve held before. Although I’ve always ‘educated’ as a nurse, with patients, families or colleagues, I’d never written a session plan or had to create learning resources like I do now!

Tell us about a typical day…

My role has changed more since the Covid-19 pandemic began, however, I still start with a strong coffee and check my emails. The day may then be office based; developing and researching a new piece of training or dealing with queries about accessing funding for university modules or accessing mandatory e-learning.

Until recently, I delivered education for clinical staff on topics key to their roles at the Hospice, such as managing breathlessness. I have also delivered several mandatory training topics and I’m responsible for the manual handling training for the clinical teams.

Tell us why nursing, as a career, is rewarding…

Nursing, for me, has always been about patient-centred care and you will always see that at St Oswald’s. The opportunity to provide someone with the care they need and also spend time really getting to know them and what is important to them is my biggest reward. I believe many nurses have certain patients that stay with them and have shaped their practice and that’s certainly true for me.

I believe education is essential in a hospice setting; not just the mandatory training required to ensure that everyone works or volunteers in a safe environment, but also the clinical education needed to enable those working with patients, children and young adults are fully equipped to deliver the high standard of care, with the knowledge that is needed. Being part of providing staff and volunteers with this knowledge is very rewarding.

What would you say to someone considering a career in nursing in a Hospice?

Take time to talk to nurses who work in a hospice about what their job entails. Many people (nurses included) assume that the job is always sad and involves caring only for patients who are dying.

Hospice nurses will tell you about the laughter and the special times they have shared with their patients, about the special occasions they have helped patients celebrate, the many patients who have gone home to spend more time with loved ones.

That’s not to say there aren’t difficult days; however, the support from the team around you enables you to keep on delivering the care.

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