My job

‘Be the best you can be in every situation’

Royal Stoke Hospital resuscitation officer and RCNi Nurse of the Year Amanda Burston explains what inspires her to work as a nurse.

Royal Stoke Hospital resuscitation officer and RCNi Nurse of the Year Amanda Burston explains what inspires her to work as a nurse.

Picture: David Gee

What is your job?

I am resuscitation officer and life support instructor (basic, paediatrics, immediate and advanced) at Royal Stoke Hospital, University Hospital of North Midlands. I provide support and leadership in all hospital cardiac/respiratory arrest events. I also deliver training, support changes in policy, and maintain, interpret and input data for National Cardiac Arrest audits. With professional support, I undertake work in the care of people who have experienced domestic abuse. I attend an all-parliamentary party group chaired by Jess Phillips MP and am a member of the RCN domestic abuse forum.  

Why did you become an emergency nurse?

I was captivated by the variety. I embraced the pressure and loved the learning opportunities. Emergency care involves the care, of children and adults, mental health care, trauma, and everything in between. No two days are the same. Belonging in a dynamic team where peer support is essential is incredible. Receiving people in emergencies knowing you can make a difference to them is an honour.

How and where have you developed your emergency care skills?

My entire emergency career has been at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire. In 2012, we left our old building and I took the opportunity to move permanently into emergency nurse education. I have also undertaken a NHS England leadership course for front-line staff, a post-graduation certificate in education at Keele University and the advanced life support course.

How did you progress through your career?

Opportunities to learn from peers are in abundance in emergency departments. I am lucky to have worked for and alongside outstanding nurses. I have always had an interest in major trauma, and one of the best courses I have completed is the old ENB 199. Recently, I have undertaken the European trauma course and find the teaching, which encompasses human factors, refreshing.

What have you learned in each role?

As a junior emergency nurse, I learned how to avoid feeling overwhelmed and to remember I am part of a team. As a senior nurse, I learned leadership and mentorship skills, and how to value each team member for his or her strengths.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Being the ‘front door’ of the hospital. While there is always pressure and, occasionally, poor press, most emergency care staff come to work with smiles on their faces and do incredible jobs despite the difficulties. The nod and the smile from the patients at the end of the shift is a fantastic reward.

What achievement makes you most proud?

In 2015/16, I was awarded RCNi Nurse of the Year for the contribution I had made in emergency care in respect to the response, recognition and referral of those suffering domestic abuse. Locally, I have received an NHS Hero award and, in 2016/17, I was awarded Woman of the Year for my continued efforts raising the profile of domestic abuse.

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

Not all patient situations end the way you would want them to. Be the best you can be in every situation. Families will always be grateful if they know you tried with compassion and integrity.

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

Talk about the bad days and celebrate the good days. Keeping a diary helps with reflection, and with learning of disease symptoms and management. Enjoy normal activities with your family and friends. After especially difficult times, always debrief with your team before you go home. It’s always okay to cry.

Work smarter, improve efficiency and remember why we are nurses. The patient is a not an inconvenience to our day – they are the reason we come to work.

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