Starting out as a nurse, Rachel spent 10 years in the intensive care department before moving to London where she worked at Guy and St. Thomas’ as a Junior Sister on the Post-Operative Intensive Care Unit. After a couple of years at Guy and St. Thomas’, Rachel moved back to her hometown and started working as a Critical Care Outreach Sister. After 10 years in this position, Rachel’s personal circumstances changed and prompted a change in career.
Becoming a Business Analyst for an IT department, Rachel was able to deploy her clinical background to add significant value to the medical product that was being developed. Rachel was in that role for 4 years before moving back into the NHS as Preoperative Assessment Service Senior Sister before taking the position as Clinical Benefits and Change Lead at Worcestershire.
We’ve spoken to a range of different NHS leaders who have moved into digital from a clinical background and while they’re reasons for the move differ, their experiences of the move always have similarities.
“For the first three months I thought: ‘Oh my goodness. They’re talking a different language.’ I’m a nurse, I’ve been a Nurse for 20 years.”
Although the first few weeks were daunting, it was the team around Rachel that needed to change to realise that the end-users, the patients and the stakeholders weren’t going to care about the technical aspects of the product they were developing.
With the team and Rachel on the same wavelength, Rachel was able to deploy her Clinical background effectively and give the project a much more holistic view of things. Rachel was able to help her team understand the clinical challenges while her team was able to help Rachel understand the administrative challenges that stand in the way of delivery.
“You don’t plug and play it like you do a mobile phone. There’s a lot of things behind the scenes that I had no clue about until I work there, and was involved in it. I do think we prolong the agony sometimes that equally, some of that is needed. And I have that understanding aspect is from that role.”
With all of her knowledge, education and experiences up until she joined the IT Department being in critical care nursing and patient care, Rachel’s decision to move away wasn’t one taken lightly.
“It was a huge jump to walk away. The biggest challenge for me was the lack of patient contact.”
Rachel couldn’t tell you if she chose this path for herself again had the circumstances been different. Becoming a single mother, she couldn’t manage young children while working such a demanding Nursing role. Regardless, she’s glad she made the move.
“It shows me that there’s more to being a nurse than the traditional routes and pathways. And you can be successful and get fulfilment from doing a role such as I’ve been doing. And I feel that I wouldn’t change it.”
Demonstrating resilience and drive across her career, Rachel has worked in high pressure, clinical and technical environments while raising her children.
Being resilient, in theory, seems sound – but applying it is another story altogether. Elements of doubt begin to creep in as you climb the career ladder. This doubt is commonly known as Imposter Syndrome and it’s something that adversely affects women.
For Rachel, who moved from a Nursing career of 30 years into a technical environment, this hit particularly hard.
“You don’t know what they’re talking about. You start to doubt yourself. Did I make the right decision?”
These thoughts can quite easily get on top of you. Rachel, using her boss at the time as an anchor, would remind herself that she was exactly who her team needed.
“They needed to put it into real language because the consultant who is sat on the project board wouldn’t have a clue.”
Rachel’s story is a reminder of the power of mentors and allies in a professional career. For Rachel, it was Emma, her previous boss, who kept her on the straight and narrow.
“I think she understood how I felt, because she followed a similar path as a nurse and moved to IT. We’re amazing friends and have a real affinity for keeping each other focused.”
When it comes to advice for those who are considering a move from the clinical to the technical, Rachel has this to say:
“Get involved. You add so much value to really important projects as a clinician or a nurse. Likewise, I used my experience of the technical side when I went back to a clinical environment. If you want to change something, you need to embrace it. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s something I’m glad I did.”
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