Careers

Expect the unexpected

Maria Hughes, lead nurse in tissue viability for Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust, discusses what makes a good practitioner. 
maria hughes

Maria Hughes, lead nurse in tissue viability for Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust, discusses what makes a good practitioner

What is your job?

I am the lead nurse in tissue viability for Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust. My role is based in the community, covering a population of about 360,000. My team and I visit patients in a variety of care settings, including their own homes, care homes and GP surgeries. I specialise in all aspects of wound management, including dermatology and vascular wounds.

Why did you become a nurse?

I decided when I was four years old that I wanted to become a nurse, having received the customary dressing up outfit. I wanted to make a difference to patients and certainly this is evident in this role.

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Maria Hughes, lead nurse in tissue viability for Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust, discusses what makes a good practitioner


Maria's role is community-based, covering a population of
about 360,000

What is your job?

I am the lead nurse in tissue viability for Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust. My role is based in the community, covering a population of about 360,000. My team and I visit patients in a variety of care settings, including their own homes, care homes and GP surgeries. I specialise in all aspects of wound management, including dermatology and vascular wounds.

Why did you become a nurse?

I decided when I was four years old that I wanted to become a nurse, having received the customary dressing up outfit. I wanted to make a difference to patients and certainly this is evident in this role. You need to have an ability for comprehensive wound management and to prevent hospital admissions, combined with quality, evidenced-based care.

What might you have done otherwise?

I would have taken up a career as a lawyer if I hadn’t become a nurse. I am privileged to hold the Cardiff University Law School Bond Solon Expert Witness qualification in civil law, which reinforces the requirement for comprehensive record-keeping.

Where did you train?

I trained in Ysbyty Glan Clwyd Hospital in North Wales. I still live in North Wales and my office is adorned with Welsh flags, which can be a problem if we lose at rugby!

How does your current job make use of your skills?

I undertake procedures, such as conservative sharp debridement, in a variety of settings. Along with the ability to prescribe, this enables the patient to undergo a comprehensive assessment, in a location and time of their choice, reducing the need for secondary care.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

My role enables me to provide a full holistic assessment of the patient and prescribe the relevant treatment in one visit. I enjoy the variety that this entails, and the combination of clinical work and delivering a comprehensive education. I am lucky as I work for an organisation that encourages innovation, which has enabled me to improve patient care through different initiatives.

What has given you most satisfaction?

When patients tell you that you saved them from an amputation, or you see a chronic would heal – this can often be after a number of years. This makes me feel that I made a difference.

What nursing achievement makes you most proud?

I am extremely proud of my initial RGN qualification in my early career and the Queen’s Nurse Award, which makes me proud that not only my colleagues value my care and leadership, but my patients too.

Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing?

I enjoy sport. I play squash, go to circuits and aqua aerobics classes. My new-found activity is “extreme Boogie Bounce”, which is trampolining to disco music, and I am sure is not a pretty sight! I also play the flute and enjoy embroidery and travel (not at the same time).

What advice would give a newly-registered nurse?

Believe in your capabilities: you have entered an amazing profession and had a superb university education. Consider research and clinical evidence in everything you do and don’t become task-orientated. Never be afraid to ask for advice and ultimately never stop caring for your patients – even when you face daily challenges.

What makes a good community or primary care nurse?

Be organised, well trained and expect the unexpected. You need to be a team player and also have the ability to be autonomous, and never be afraid to admit your shortcomings and ask for help. A sense of humour is also essential.

What is likely to affect nurses working in primary care over the next 12 months?

Extending their role to meet the growing needs of the patient and enabling that patient to remain in their preferred place of care. We have to use resources effectively, which may require working in a different way. Ultimately, we need to deliver high-quality care, with the patient at the heart of everything we do.

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