Real-life story - Alex Phillips
How I got into the role
My first nursing job was on an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) department. I experienced caring for adult patients who had often been through 12-hour operations and suffered altered body image following facial surgery. The initial post-operative period required one-to-one nursing which led me to consider critical care nursing.
I decided to gain some work experience in neonatal nursing. I quickly realised it was the career for me so I applied to complete a course to gain both the knowledge and skills to become a specialist neonatal intensive care nurse.
I've progressed through various roles in the NHS and am now a matron on a level 3 neonatal unit. We provide the most critical level of care for extremely premature babies, often with cardiac conditions and requiring surgery. I can safely say that one day is never like the next! You never know what you will be dealing with, and that includes many highs alongside the lows.
What I do
Being in charge of the neonatal intensive care unit not only involves the day-to-day management of the unit, but also recruitment and HR issues of nursing staff. I oversee the training and development of the nursing team in order to provide the correct level of nursing skills needed. I also work closely with a range of other healthcare professionals within children's services and get involved in the development of new services.
Throughout my nursing career, I have been given opportunities to develop different skills and further my career. For example, my employer has supported me in completing my master's in health management. I now have a greater understanding of healthcare systems, finance and leadership skills.
The best bits and challenges
Neonatal nursing is a highly skilled and ever-changing area of nursing. However, one thing is constant - the satisfaction in seeing a neonatal baby you have cared for being well enough to be discharged or transferred to less acute units.