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MAY 27/2015

What is it like being an A&E nurse?

We recently caught up with Becky Bickley, a critical care nurse who supplements her full-time job with additional agency placements in A&E. She is also studying at John Moores University in Liverpool to enable her to further her career.

Q. What made you decide to work in critical care?

"I originally trained to be a nurse who specialised in treating people with learning difficulties, but I started doubting whether it was the right place for me. I then did one shift in A&E and decided that there was where I wanted to be. 

"I think it's the adrenaline rush of working in such a fast-paced environment. There's no routine and there's no way you can predict what you're going to be presented with. I get to treat trauma, minor illnesses and everything in between."

Q. Why did you opt for agency work in A&E , as well as working in a substantive post?

"I left A&E in 2011 to work in an Urgent Care Centre, which is a very different skillset to working in accident and emergency. There was an incident out of work that happened in May 2013 that required my emergency nursing skills – that particular incident made me realise how much I missed emergency nursing, so I joined Medacs so I could get back into A&E.

"Agency work is great! You can pick and choose what you want to work and fit it around you and your family. Although I am currently not a full time agency nurse, it is something I have thought about doing, but would like to do the prescribing module before I leave the NHS.”

Q. What is a typical day like in A&E?

"In A&E it is difficult to say what an average shift is like as every day is so different – you just never know how the shift is going to go.  I will carry out a lot of clinical skills such as venepuncture, IV therapy, catheterisations, ECGs, wound care. As an Agency Nurse in A&E, my job is to assess, treat and deliver care to patients, constantly adapting to suit the patient and the team I’m working with. Teamwork is very important in A&E; without it patients would not get the standards of care delivery and treatment that they receive. Another great thing about my role as an agency nurse in A&E is the variety of locations where I could end up working - Majors, Resus, Minors, and CDU. You can work early, late, twilight, nightshift or you can do a long day, which is an early and a late shift."

Q. What would you say to someone thinking about working as an agency critical care nurse? 

"If you are unsure about whether to take an agency role then why not just give it a try? What have you got to lose? The Medacs consultants are great, the money is good, you will see different ways of working by going into different departments. My Medacs consultant really understands me, understands what family life is like.”

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