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Kirsten Taylor - Newly Qualified Nurse Associates

‘It is essential that we ensure our patients feel safe and we will continue to support them as much as we can to understand these unprecedented times we are all facing.’ – Meet Kirsten Taylor one of Solent NHS Trust’s Apprentices who has qualified ahead of schedule to help with the demand for community services

Nursing apprentices at Solent NHS Trust have been working hard to qualify weeks before their scheduled completion date to help join the effort in caring for our diverse communities through this challenging time. The nurses are part of a nationwide effort to help support the NHS and other key healthcare workers during this pandemic.

Kirsten Taylor is one of the recently qualified Nurse associates who has been redeployed to one of the Trust’s services. Kristen was one of the first people to take part in the Nurse Associate apprentices in Solent and is also one of the first to qualify from the programme. We found out more about Kirsten’s story and how she has now taken the plunge to work differently during COVID-19. 

“I always wanted to work in a hospital when I was a little girl and was interested in a career in healthcare. My first healthcare job was in a Learning Disability Service, I was 20 years old and I had no previous experience. Before this I had been working at a children’s play centre and I was terrified I’d do something wrong, as it was my first time being responsible for another person! 

“I loved working in the Learning Disability Service and developed a real passion for caring for others. Unfortunately, there was no room for progression, so I applied for a job at The Kite Unit, a neuro-psychiatric ward. I quickly learnt that within the service, no patient was the same and each one had to be treated with an individual, person centred approach. Kite has taught me how stay patient and calm in challenging situations, as well as be empathetic and support those who cannot always communicate their needs and may need advocating.

“After two years of working on the Kite Unit, I was eager to further my career into nursing. I had seen apprenticeships advertised on the trust intranet, but I was apprehensive to apply. I went to a school that has been under special measures and is in a deprived area of the city, meaning University felt out of reach to me and my friends. However, with the support of my manager, I secured an interview and was offered a choice to study for the Health Care Practitioner Role or the Trainee Nursing associate (TNA). After researching both roles, I felt more excited by the clinical skills and practice placements accompanying the TNA. I was eager to be part of the programme and become one of the first people in the trust to be a Nursing Associate.

“My personal highlight of the course was practice placements, they exposed me to such a variety of new skills and knowledge. My background within learning disability and Neuropsychiatric gave me little experience in a general acute setting but my mentor was brilliant and supportive, encouraging me to learn as much as possible whilst on placement. 

“My favourite placement was on a Gastro and Hepatology ward at University Hospital Southampton, but I also enjoyed my placements on a Mental Health Crisis Team, Neuro intensive Care Unit and a brain injury and spinal rehabilitation unit.

“Since becoming registered, my role has changed on Kite. I was able to use the skills and knowledge I learnt throughout the course to grow more confident in the TNA role. My colleagues are very supportive of this change. I am now able to administer medication and deliver care under the direction of the Nurse in charge. I use my new skills such as phlebotomy, catheter and wound care on the wards, as well as share and transfer my skills to my colleagues so they can also deliver better patient centred care. 

“The Multi-disciplinary Team at the Kite Unit is made up of Mental Health Nurses, LD Nurses and General Nurses. Some of the skills I have been taught are not taught to Mental health and LD nurses, so I am often one of a minority of staff on Kite that can perform certain actions. This is highly beneficial to patients as it allows us to use familiar staff for invasive and sensitive procedures that may otherwise cause anxiety and distress.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic I have recently been redeployed to Snowdon Rehabilitation Unit. I spent six weeks on Snowdon as one of my practice placements, so I am familiar with the ward. I really enjoy working on Snowdon; it’s amazing to watch physically impaired patients grow stronger each day. The team at Snowdon are so friendly and supportive and ensure every patient gets the best chance at recovery. 

“Covid-19 has presented many challenges. Some of our patients have found it difficult to understand the pandemic and the new restrictions placed on seeing families and loved ones. We have been supporting patients with ward tablets where they can video call and spend time with their relatives. 

“Covid-19 has changed our way of working. I believe it has strengthened the team and how we work together. It is essential that we ensure our patients feel safe and we will continue to support them as much as we can to understand these unprecedented times we are all facing. 

“I am excited to continue working here at Solent and would recommend the TNA course to anyone who is interested in an alternative route into nursing.