There is little doubt that nursing is a diverse and rewarding career. However, what happens when the role you love doesn’t suit your lifestyle or holds you back from achieving your ultimate goal? Maybe it’s time to become a career agency nurse.
Fazal Wahid is a former A&E agency nurse turned advanced nurse practitioner. He’s also a highly valued member of the Medacs Healthcare family. Fazal explains how working as a full time agency nurse not only enabled him to live his life the way he wanted to and follow his childhood dream of becoming a clinician, but also how he soon became ‘part of the furniture’, wherever he worked.
When did you start your agency nursing career?
“I started working with Medacs Healthcare in 2013and it has been my main employer ever since; most of my hours worked have been with Medacs Healthcare.”
Why did you choose to join a nursing agency?
“Initially it was flexibility. I’ve been an A&E nurse and I’ve also worked in a care home. When I got my citizenship I worked in the NHS, but it affected my family situation. I had a young family and the rest of my family live in Pakistan. We needed regular holidays.
I never knew that agency [nursing] would be so helpful in my career. It was great for flexible hours and to manage my family and social life.”
Were there any initial challenges to agency work?
“Obviously you are going to new places, so it’s challenging. Another thing is the travelling, you are going to different locations, so you will find it hard in the beginning; where to park, how to get there.
Once you enter the department you are a new person. Nobody knows your name, nobody knows your weaknesses or your strengths. Nobody knows if you will be good in IV medication calculation, so somebody will just ask you ‘Can you take a sample?’ It is challenging at the beginning, but it doesn’t take long to adapt.
About 95 per cent of my shifts were in three hospitals. I have not been to that many places, so to get used to those three places is not a big deal. I found myself feeling like part of the furniture. Due to my own cultural set up, I like to work during Christmas. My wife and I will make the food on
Christmas Day and I will take it into hospital and we will celebrate Christmas together, so I don’t feel like an outsider.
In the beginning, yes, you are a stranger. It is challenging; it is difficult to get used to the people, but what I am trying to say is you soon get used to those people."
What advice would you give to a new agency nurse?
"Think positively about the people you work with and the attitude you adopt. Make it positive because they don’t know you. But in time they will know you and you will become accepted just like the other nurses.”
Is there anything you’d wish you’d known before starting as an agency nurse?
I don’t think there was anything that I wished I’d have known before joining an agency. Of course there are the worries of going into a new place, but I think this is a worry for most of the nurses, doctors and health care professionals who register with an agency.
Congratulations on becoming a nurse practitioner! How did agency nursing support your professional development?
“It has happened because of Medacs [Healthcare]. Because of my personal situation, I couldn’t continue working in the NHS because of the work pattern. There’s only me, my wife and children living here. My parents and the rest of my family are in Pakistan and I couldn’t take more than two weeks holidays at a time. With Medacs Healthcare, I work hard and I’m able to spend three months in Pakistan with my parents before returning to work.
Also, if I was working in the NHS, I would not get the opportunity to do some courses that have helped me further my career. With the help of the nursing agency, I had money for my tuition fees and I was able to be flexible. I didn’t need to ask for days off to attend university.
Working in many different hospitals has given me the opportunity to meet doctors and consultants. I’ve developed good relationships with them and they even offered me placements which were required for my clinical placement as an Advanced Nurse Practitioner.
I was offered a placement by a GP in their own practice. She became my mentor after looking into my work. You need to have practice placements and a designated mentor and, because of the agency, I got access to the hospital where I met the doctor who offered me the opportunity to learn as a student.”
How are you finding your new role as a clinician?
"It is brilliant. It is like a dream come true.
Finally, I’ve been able to realise my dream of becoming a clinician. To embark on a role which I have really wanted to do ever since I was 16, maybe 18 years old. When I got it at the age of 40, it really was amazing. I’m now trying to read more and become a role model clinician."
Find out more
If you would like to find out more about the benefits of becoming an agency nurse, either full time or doing ad hoc shifts, please contact one of our dedicated Nursing Teams.
For England and Wales, contact us via email or call 0800 442 207 during office hours.
For Scotland, contact us via email or call 0141 225 5451 during office hours.
Looking for further reading on the subject of agency nursing? Check out our related blog posts:
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Nurse Career Progression: How Agency Nursing Supported My Career Development to ANP
Agency Nursing as a Career: An Interview with an Advanced Nurse Practitioner