Sunday, June 16, 2024

Nurse reflects on 42-year career in NHS

TRACY Reed credits the NHS for the life-changing opportunities it has provided her over the last 42 years.

Tracy, who is the clinical lead for end of life care, said: “Sometimes it is in our DNA to be a nurse and care and support people, and the NHS allows us to do that.

“I have seen so many changes but I don’t think the focus on compassion and people’s health and care has ever changed.

“I have never felt I wanted to work outside the NHS.”
Tracy has spent her entire career serving the people of west Essex, including working at St Margaret’s Hospital in Epping, the Herts and Essex Hospital, Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, Stansted Clinic and Loughton Clinic


She joined the NHS at 17, as an administrative clerk at Warley Hospital. Her mum and sister were both nurses but it was not a career she had considered for herself, until a patient had a cardiac arrest.

She said: “I was the first aider and I resuscitated him. He was alive when the ambulance came, but then he had a massive heart attack and died.
“I wanted to understand why I had brought him to life but then he had died.”

Tracy began her nursing training in 1985, resulting in a varied career including general medicine, coronary care, community nursing and caring for the elderly.

She became a Macmillan professional at the cancer information service and has specialised in end of life care since 2011, an area that she has always been interested in.
She is also an independent adviser on end of life care for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Tracy became a Queens Nurse in 2012, a title given to nurses who demonstrate a high level of commitment to patient care and nursing practice.
Her experience of healthcare in the UK is very different to that in Nepal, where she volunteered with other Queens Nurses to support people affected by a devastating earthquake in 2015.

There is no free healthcare in Nepal and people living in remote villages had to walk 15 miles to see a doctor.
“When I visited Bandipur Hospital, a family had run ten miles carrying an ill family member.
“You can’t imagine how that is,” she said.
Her three-week voluntary placement was “life-changing” and Tracy has continued to fundraise and support healthcare projects in Nepal. These include the SASANE Society, which supports women who have been victims of human trafficking.

The Queens Nurses volunteers set up health clinics for children and supported children, some as young as three, who had been abandoned and were living on the streets.
One of the young boys they met has just become a doctor.

Tracy said: “If I hadn’t chosen the NHS as a career, I wouldn’t have had the life experiences it has given me.
“I am really passionate that people get good care and support.
“That’s not just people in our care, but our staff as well.
“I remember when I was 17 my dad said ‘you have a job for life’.
“It is a job for life, if you put everything into your career and you love what you’re doing.”

During her career she has trained many colleagues and she is proud to have seen her former students grow and develop their careers.
Tracy left school with one O-level and six CSEs and pursued life-long learning throughout her adult life, juggling study with work and family commitments.

She has completed numerous training and academic courses during her career, including a MSc in Advanced Practice in Health and Social Care in 2010.

It was while studying for her masters degree that she was diagnosed with dyslexia.
She said: “My mum was ill with cancer when I was growing up, so I was a carer as a child and didn’t have a lot of opportunities to learn.
“Most of my learning I have done as an adult.
“I owe my whole career and progression to the NHS.
“It has provided me with a job I love and a career I am very proud of for 42 years.”

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