How to become a critical care staff nurse: Sarah’s story

What are your day-to-day tasks?

You’ve got basic patient care, making sure they are washed, their nutritional needs are met and that they are hydrated. You check the patient’s observations – this includes their blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature and some people may need their blood sugar checked. If you notice a deterioration, you report it to the nurse in charge or the doctors.

What skills do you use in your work?

Time management is probably one of the most important things. If you’ve got a lot of patients, you’ve got to prioritise tasks for each patient. Communication and team work are also important. For example, if you have to roll someone on a ventilator you need three people working together. You are taught to work in pairs – some tasks need to be double-checked for safety.

What subjects did you study at school?

I needed a C in English, Maths and Science. I did Additional Science as it was my favourite subject. After GCSEs I went to college. I did AS Biology, because I knew that would help with nursing. I wasn’t too good on the written exams – I was better at practical tests, so I transferred to BTEC Science alongside Psychology and Religious Studies A-level. I also did the Welsh Baccalaureate and achieved the equivalent to an A-level. I applied to university but, unfortunately, I didn’t get through the first time. I tried again and got an offer to study Adult Nursing.

Is this the job you always knew you wanted to do?

It was always nursing or teaching. Originally, I wanted to do child nursing, but with working in a care home and other experiences I changed to adult care. I have wanted to do nursing for 15 years.

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