To describe my journey to PEM, I need to go WAY back! I came to medicine very late by most standards, starting medical school at 36. This was after a well-established career in Paediatric Speech Pathology and a PhD in Communication after head injury. Once I completed Med school, my journey to PEM developed after an early realisation that my heart was to work with children, and that my specific interest was in Emergency. Emergency suited my tendency to find the next shiny thing in the room, and I loved kids, loved that I could go to work and have the opportunity to connect with families and children, and that I could blow bubbles and play peek-a-boo at work. I loved that I could walk alongside families on what was most likely the worst day of their life and offer some comfort. I loved that I could bring a calm presence to what was often a very intense and busy environment. This was my calling, my vocation – not my job or career.
I completed my nursing degree in the UK and specialised in paediatrics, but my nursing career did not begin in ED.
I worked in paediatric neurosciences for 6 years before I ventured into paediatric ED. I was working a shift on the ward when a patient had a prolonged seizure and we initiated a Medical Emergency Team (MET) response call. When the MET team arrived, they seemed calm, organised, well prepared and in control of the situation and I felt that I really wanted to gain more experience in responding to emergency situations. I asked my Nurse Manager for a 6-month rotation to the paediatric ED. That was in 2009.
I really enjoy the fast pace, the variety of presentations and the confidence I have gained in dealing with emergency situations, situations that I had very rarely been exposed to in the ward environment. I also enjoy the genuine feeling of collaboration with the entire team. Everyone’s role is acknowledged, respected and appreciated. It feels like a real close-knit team, working together to achieve a shared goal.
I love working with children because of their resilience, even when they are sick they can often muster a smile if you blow bubbles or sing a nursery rhyme. It also feels like such a privilege to me to work with children and their families at what may be such a difficult time in their lives. Families trust us and put their faith in us to care for the most precious thing I their lives, their children. It gives me a huge sense of fulfillment to know that I can make this experience just a little bit better for the children and their families.
It’s a job that makes me feel genuinely happy and fulfilled, and for the time being I can’t imagine doing anything else. Except for when night shift rolls around again and at 4am I think about how nice it might be to work in a coffee shop!”