Time to look back

On the 27th December 1992 I started work as a Registered Nurse on the Children’s Unit at Hull Royal Infirmary. I was 21 years old and full of enthusiasm for my future career. Nearly 27 years on I can say it has been an adventure, and one that I would not change.

As I am about to start a new adventure as a Senior Organisational Development Practitioner and Coaching Lead (for the same hospital, I am not that adventurous), I thought I would reflect on my 27 years working on the Children’s Unit.

So it all started on Ward 12 (Hull Royal Infirmary) in December 1992. Well actually my first day was on Ward 130 East as Ward 12 had closed over Christmas week.

Ward 12 was the Children’s ENT and Ophthalmology ward, so cared for mainly elective (planned) patients, with a few emergencies. By the time I started the ward was progressively getting quieter and quieter as the nature of surgery changed and lengths of stays shortened. Ward 12 eventually closed and was merged with Ward 130 East which was the Surgical Ward on the floor above.

This coincided with me starting my Registered Sick Children’s Nurse qualification in March 1994, at the short lived Humberside College of Health. Humberside College of Health was situated in the old orthopaedic unit at Dela Pole Hospital, which at that time was still a working Psychiatric Hospital. We were often joined in our lectures by interested inpatients. To be fair they appeared more engaged in the subjects, than some of us. The majority of the students on the course were from either Hull or Grimsby, or Scunthorpe, but we did have two students from the forces, one from the navy and one from the RAF which created a new dynamic. When I think about my fellow RSCN students from Hull, there are only 2 of us that still work at Hull Royal.

After qualification I went back to work on Ward 130 East. Between 1995 and 1997 I worked on this ward, and I would say this was the time when I learned the most about nursing children. It was an incredibly busy and challenging time. We cared for some very sick children and it took it’s toll both physically and mentally on a lot of us.

As a result of this challenging time I decided I needed to learn more about caring for very sick children, and I went to work in ICU. I learned a lot working on ICU and still have a place in my heart for the place and the team despite only working there for a year. The difficulty I had was that I spent most a lot of my time caring for adults, and my heart was still with caring for children. So I went back to the Children’s unit. I did however go back for a few months on rotation.

On my return to the Children’s Unit I was placed on 130 West (medical ward) . After a year I was promoted to what was then an F Grade (Band 6 today), and I became a Father for the first time.

In 2001 I joined a brand new team on PHDU (high dependency unit). I worked there for a year, a year I loved from a work perspective, however it was probably personally one of my most challenging years.

In 2002 I became the Charge Nurse on Ward 130 West. Even though I struggled with my mental health during the 11 years I worked there, I generally have very fond memories of this time. I worked with some incredible nurses during this time, and I feel honoured to have worked with them and manage them. We had some really challenging times and some truly incredible times including winning a regional award for innovation. Every single one of us made a difference to children’s lives, and we should all be immensely proud of what we did during this time.

In 2013 I moved on to being the Teacher Practitioner for the Children’s Unit, the job I am about to leave for a job that over the past 3 years has become by dream job. During my time as Teacher Practitioner, I learned to manage my demons, and was exposed to coaching. Coaching has changed my life, and has reignited my passion for care and compassion. I found a job that gives me the exact same buzz as I got caring for people as a junior staff nurse.

I will be forever grateful for my time on the Children’s Unit, and will always have a place in my heart for all the incredible Children’s Nurses, Play Specialists, CSWs, Auxilliaries, Housekeepers, Ward Clerks, Domestics, Caterers, Consultants, and Trainees I have worked with over those 27 years.


Published by Matt Smith Personal and Professional Coach

Performance and Life Coach

4 thoughts on “Time to look back

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