Name: Penelope Simmons
Job Title: Anti Coagulation Education Nurse
Place of Work: Kettering General Hospital
What made you want to be a nurse & when did you originally qualify?
I’d always wanted to be a nurse, so after starting a family I went to do my training and eventually qualified in October 1997.
What did you enjoy about the role when you first became a nurse?
From the start I knew it was a job for life. I really enjoyed being part of a team and the opportunities to use my organisational skills.
The most rewarding thing has to be looking after patients on their journey – it ‘s wonderful to send them back home after supporting them & their families.
What made you take a break from nursing?
I have 8 children, so I left the NHS because I needed to work where the hours were easier and more suitable for my family. I had six years out of nursing, but it was always on my agenda that I’d go back.
Why did you decide to return to nursing?
I came back to the NHS as a HCA in October 2012, knowing that I wanted to get back into nursing. Last June I started my return to practice course for all the reasons I took nursing up in the first place – it’s what I’ll do forever now.
How did you find the Return To Practice process?
Really positive. We were the first group on the new RTP course here and although there were a lot of essays and some of it was scary, it all came back to me.
The placement was excellent, especially as our placement was where we would be working once we’d completed the programme. You’re not like a normal student as you’re immediately surrounded by colleagues. The teams treat you as if you’ve never been away and people are really supportive.
Nursing comes back to you so much more than you expect. I’d never worked in such an acute area before & it surprised me how much I remembered.
What do you think are the main benefits of returning to practice as a nurse?
You’ve got your sense of role back – you become a nurse & it’s you. The day that you get back into blues you feel like the missing piece has been found.
It’s like you’ve been asleep & you wake up again.
How has the NHS changed since you were last working for the organisation?
There are so many more people working part time or flexible working.
Years ago I felt that part time roles were not as well respected as they are now. 50% of workforce is part time at our Trust now. Being able to have a 9 – 5 position offers me so much flexibility with my family.
If someone were thinking about returning to practice, what advice would you give them?
When you’re worrying about returning to practice you need to be lead and helped through, so the support on offers makes a big difference. Having a student uniform, with a badge, on placement lets the team know you’re there to learn, so they give you the support & opportunities you need.
Throughout the experience people will be really supportive & respectful of the fact that you have skills from before. They also respect the life experience you have.