My job

My job: out-of-hours nurse consultant Caroline Chapman

Caroline Chapman explains why believing in yourself can get you where you want to be

Caroline Chapman explains why believing in yourself can get you where you want to be. 

What is your job?

As a nurse consultant for acuity out-of-hours at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, I lead the hospital night service which delivers emergency out-of-hours care to 1,100 inpatients.

Caroline Chapman

I work clinically as part of this team in conjunction with managing and developing the service. I am also responsible for the strategic and quality improvement aspects of out-of-hours care. 

Why did you become a nurse?

When I was a child, I made a hospital wing out of my Barbie horse stables set complete with an emergency department and ambulance. I started doing voluntary work when I was at school in a nursing home, spending time with the residents, helping with meals and being a companion. I just knew it was what I wanted to do.

Where did you train?

Watford General Hospital with the University of Hertfordshire. Once I qualified, I worked on a medical ward and then ITU before moving to Dorset and working in the critical care department.

After a few years, I moved to ITU in Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth. I developed my critical care skills and grew as a nurse. I then took a post as a ward manager to set up and run a surgical high care unit.

This was an exciting time as I was training to be the first consultant nurse for hospital at night in the country so we developed the curriculum with the support of Health Education Wessex.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

It is different every night. Managing the inpatient clinical priorities across a large hospital is challenging, but it offers an excellent setting in which your skills and clinical competencies can be developed. I also love working as part of a great team and as part of the wider Portsmouth NHS Trust family. 

How and where have you developed leadership skills?

I did an NHS leadership academy course for senior operational leaders over the course of a year. I was lucky to be selected for the programme and it helped me to further understand my leadership style and transform it. These are skills that I continue to use while working with the ward teams at night.

What is the greatest challenge?

The unpredictable nature of competing clinical priorities and preparing a team to have the skills and competencies to be able to effectively deal with a vast range of clinical emergencies and situations.

What inspires you?

The resilience, compassion and professionalism that I see in our nurses at all stages of their careers. The work that we do is emergency-based so we see patients who are sick and are experiencing some of the worst moments in their lives.

What achievement makes you most proud?

Implementing an electronic task management system that reduced our serious incidents overnight by 50% and having this recognised with a national award.

What makes a good nurse leader?

Being tenacious. Negotiating with stakeholders, influencing authentically and being able to work collaboratively across an organisation to deliver a service tailored to patients’ needs. Taking time to listen, educate and be educated.

What advice would you like to pass on to students and junior staff?

Never underestimate the importance of being the best you can be for your patients. Believe in yourself and in others, especially when they cannot see it in themselves.

Lastly, be kind – to each other, to yourself and most importantly to your patients. 

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