"This photo was taken in the third year of my nurse training in 1998.
I’d always wanted to be a nurse and was immensely proud to be studying nursing. I avidly watched Casualty on the television because my aunt was a Casualty sister in the then Mountain Ash General Hospital. As a young child, I’d go and sit I her office and make paper nurses hats. I always knew this would be the career path I’d pursue one day.
I started my nurse training in October 1995 in University College of Medicine Cardiff. This was in the early days of Project 2000. We were some of the first students to have our education embedded within a university setting, very different to the situation today where nursing is an all-graduate profession.
I qualified in 1998 and carried my yellow epaulettes in my bag for a year afterwards as a comfort blanket. Doctors didn’t speak to you as a student but as soon as you had your blues, everybody wanted a piece of you. Although a terrifying experience, there were always more experienced staff to support and mentor you.
I started my career in Trauma and Orthopedics in Cardiff Royal Infirmary. She was a beautiful old hospital, with lots of character. Everybody knew everyone and people stopped to chat in the corridor.
When CRI closed, we were all transferred to UHW and it was here that my A&E career began in a brand-new state-of-the-art Emergency Department. I remained here for the next 16 years developing my expertise in emergency care.
Twenty years ago, I could never have envisaged the roles I would go on to perform in clinical practice. When I started in A&E, Emergency Nurse Practitioners were in their infancy, and had just been permitted to request X-rays and see patients with simple limb injuries.
I took the MSc Nurse Practitioner and Independent Prescribing courses and became one of the first Advanced Nurse Practitioners in the Emergency Unit, able to see and treat my own case load of patients, prescribe medication and either discharge them home or refer them on for further treatment.
But even with these advanced skills, I still saw myself very much as a nurse, and basic nursing care as fundamental to my role.
This has never left me. I love being a nurse. I get the opportunity to make a difference to people’s lives, at their most vulnerable times. This might be explaining to a mum about what’s happening to her sick child to holding the hand of a frightened elderly patient. I feel very privileged to do the job I do."