Career advice

Juggling multiple tasks

Nick Castle says he 'stumbled into' emergency nursing

Emergency and resuscitation nurse consultant Nick Castle is assistant executive director and head of professions at Hamad Medical Corporation Ambulance Service in Qatar

Why did you become an emergency nurse?

My background was in critical intensive care nursing but I was also part of the clinical management team at Wembley Stadium before 2000 so I stumbled into emergency nursing.

What might you have done otherwise?

I made a decision at 14 to go into nursing. While waiting to start training, I worked with my dad on building sites. Despite acquiring the nickname Florence, for obvious reasons, I have never looked back.

How and where have you developed your emergency care skills?

My area of interest was treating critically ill or injured patients, so I brought my intensive and critical care unit knowledge into the resuscitation room. I then started managing and caring for patients in majors and the pre-hospital arena. I was lucky to work in a progressive hospital at Frimley Park, and as a dual-registered nurse and paramedic. I also gained pre-hospital critical care experience in South Africa, where I maintain academic links.

How do you make use of your skills?

As head of professions for Hamad Medical Corporation Ambulance Service, I have my ideal job. I can draw on 32 years of experience in an exciting role leading an excellent team of clinicians.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Working in a clinically-led service where most executives are clinicians and where even a small change can have a massive impact on patient care.

What is the greatest challenge you have faced, and how did you overcome it?

There have been many challenges, but I have always had the support of my director of nursing, and my wife and close friends. I have learnt to identify the battles worth fighting, always put patient care first, and remember that the people you meet on the way up are the same people you meet on the way down.

Where would you like to be in five years’ time?

I have been in this role for only six months, but my five-year plan is to work towards the World Cup in 2022 and ensure my daughters surpass my academic achievements.

Professionally speaking, what has given you most satisfaction?

Making good clinicians great clinicians.

What achievement makes you most proud?

The team I left behind at Frimley Park and the team I have inherited, many of whom are former students of mine, when I moved to Qatar.

Outside work, what do you enjoy doing?

This is one of my many failings, but relaxing in Cyprus with my wife and grown-up daughters is something I always look forward too.

What or who inspires you, and why?

On a professional level, two people. First, my previous director of nursing, Mary Dunne, who always knew the right thing to say to encourage me or clip my wings, and who always stood by me. Second, world-famous British cardiologist Professor Douglas Chamberlain, who revolutionised pre-hospital clinical care and founded the first paramedic unit in Europe in 1971. He has achieved so much in the field of resuscitation, and can enthuse people and bring them along with his ideas.

What makes a good emergency nurse?

Being part octopus so you can juggle multiple tasks!

What keeps you awake at night?

This annoys me more than keeping me awake, but it is the ill-informed, reactionary approach of the UK media to healthcare issues which stifles sensible discussion due to shroud-waving.

What advice would you give a nurse who is starting out in emergency care?

Take time to learn your trade and remember basic nursing care comes before intravenous cannulation.

What is likely to affect UK emergency nurses most over the next 12 months?

The changing nature of our patient population, which increasingly comprises frail older people, at a time of reducing social care budgets.

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