A Careers Interview with Kim, an Anaesthetics Staff Nurse


Thea Mitchell-Wren

12th October 2021


A Careers interview with Kim

Job title – Anaesthetic Staff Nurse

Tell me a little bit about your job. What are your main responsibilities?

As an Anaesthetic Staff Nurse, I assist the Anaesthetist in all areas of anaesthesia. It is my job to ensure the patient has a safe journey through theatre and I am the patients advocate. It is my responsibility to provide individualised care and build rapport with patients in order to make them feel as comfortable as possible in the hospital environment. It is crucial I keep them up-to-date and informed on the process. 

One of my other main roles is to prepare and provide everything the anaesthetist needs. This uses clinical skills, such as the preparation of a wide range of specialist equipment and drugs. I safely secure the patients airway to prepare them for the anaesthetic. In addition to this, I give post-operative care, where we safely wake the patient up and provide pain and nausea relief as needed. I have been nursing 35 years. 

What motivated you to go into this type of work? Talk me through your journey from leaving school.

I am people person who is passionate about working within health and social care. After I left school, I did a Diploma in Nursery Nursing at York Technical College. This allowed me to start work with children aged 0-7 years. I got a live-in Nanny post working in Kingston-Upon-Thames and I lived with a diplomatic family caring for their two children. When the family moved to Harrogate, I did too and moved into my own accommodation. 

Soon after I applied for the State Enrolled Nursing Course, as it was then, and once accepted, I began the 2-year training at Harrogate General Hospital. Once qualified I got a job in the Nuffield private hospital in Tunbridge Wells. I worked here for about a year and a half before I moved to London where I started work as an Agency Nurse and Hammersmith Postgraduate Hospital. As agency staff I experienced nursing across so many different departments and specialisms including Gynecology, Cardiothoracic and general medical wards. On the wards I nursed people with HIV when the treatment of HIV was still unknown. 

I then moved to Australia, did lots of travelling and worked in a Ski-resort, restaurants and bars. On my return to the U.K., I was offered a place on a ‘Conversion Course’, which upgraded my qualification from State Enrolled Nursing to Registered General Nurse. After further roles working in London on lots of different wards, I moved to Stockton-on-Tees where I found work at a Nursing Home as a Deputy Matron before moving into Elderly Care at Darlington Hospital. It was this latter job which led me to Anaesthetics and the beginning of a long career in Theatres (briefly punctuated by another period of time abroad in Saudi Arabia where I treated patients with Leukaemia).

At North Tees Hospital, I became an Anaesthetics Nurse and I still work here today. Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic our role changed dramatically as regular theatre operations were stopped. Instead, I assisted the Intensive Care Nurses due to the increase in hospital patients presenting with the virus. 

What was your career route into this job? Describe the paths you took and who you networked with.

The first relevant qualification I studied was the Diploma in Nursery Nursing, followed by State Enrolled Nursing, which I then ‘topped up’ by taking the Registered General Nurse (RGN) conversion course. Throughout this I gained lots of experience in the U.K. and abroad. The range of departments and wards I worked in helped me eventually find the specialism I now have.
I networked constantly throughout my career journey, meeting people from across the hospital environment within nursing care, from ward managers to nurses. I have always been proactive in my job search. For example I placed adverts in papers to get certain roles such a the one in Australia at the ski-resort and the Nursing job in Saudi Arabia.

What do you most enjoy about your job?

The thing I enjoy most about my job is having interaction with patients and working within a strong team that strives to provide excellent care and support. I also enjoy facing challenging situations, which need me to use my problem-solving skills. It is fulfilling to assist patients through the theatre journey, which can be scary and stressful. 

What do you least enjoy?

The thing I least enjoy about my job is challenges that make patient care difficult, e.g., the understaffing we face in the NHS. It can also be hard to source the correct equipment needed to provide appropriate care. The underfunding that the NHS experiences is at the root of the many challenges I face working in the hospital. 

What would you say are the most essential qualities to thrive in this type of work?

The most essential qualities needed to thrive in this type of work are compassion, understanding, confidence and empathy. To be honest, you use pretty much every skill you can think in this job. It is so crucial you display patience and kindness, while using a non-judgmental attitude to give people the best care and support you can. Keeping up-to-date and informed of practical skills and research based is crucial. 

If you were to give people advice about going into a career in health and social care or childcare and education, what would be your top tips?

My top tip is to make sure that you 100% enjoy working with the public and feel you are a people person. If you don’t, this role just won’t really suit. You should also believe in yourself and not worry about sticking to one clear path. If my career journey proves anything it’s that you can adapt and use your skills in a wide range of roles and settings. Grab the opportunities, the world is your oyster!
What skills or life experience do you think helps someone to do well in a career in health and social care or childcare and education?

Honestly, every experience counts. Volunteering is always a good idea, but don’t overlook the all those small part-time jobs you do along the way e.g. working with challenging customers in the ski-resort, bars and restaurants all helped to make me who I am as a nurse.

What kind of career progression opportunities are there in your field of work?

Career progression in nursing can involve moving up or sideways-  into Management, Clinical Education, Medical Education or Mental Health for example. Always be open to further training and you could move into positions such as midwife, health visitor, neonatal nurse, district or practice nurse. 

How does your employer recruit for new members of staff?

In nursing the NHS employs graduates from University and from within through Degree Apprenticeships. You can begin your nursing career as a Healthcare Assistant, step up to Nursing Associate and become a Registered Nurse through this apprenticeship route. 

They advertise vacancies on the NHS Jobs website and they may also be advertise internally on noticeboards and through staff emails. The opportunities within the NHS are endless.