My job

Paediatric emergency unit sister

Emily Jones says all experiences at work, good and bad, will make you a better emergency nurse

Emily Jones says all experiences at work, good and bad, will make you a better emergency nurse

Picture of Emily Jones, a paediatric emergency unit sister at University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff. She loves the variety of her job and says all experiences at work, good and bad, will make you a better emergency nurse.

What is your job?

I am a sister in the paediatric emergency unit at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, where I help to lead and manage a team of 22 nurses and one play specialist, seeing more than 32,000 paediatric patients a year.

Why did you become an emergency nurse?

On an emergency department (ED) placement during my training I knew it was the place for me. I loved the pace, variety and excitement of not knowing what was coming through the doors.

As a newly qualified nurse in Cardiff, I was placed on a surgical ward and for the first month often cried after shifts as it was so daunting. I then settled down and started to enjoy it, but my desire to a be an emergency nurse was still strong, so I spoke to the team leader of the emergency unit, who is still my boss now. He told me to gain as much experience as possible across different departments then come back to the emergency unit when I felt ready, so that’s what I did.

What might you have done otherwise?

I wanted to be a nurse as a child, but as a teenager I wanted to be a firefighter, until I broke my ankle and needed some metalwork, so the fire service was out. I still wanted a job helping people, so nursing seemed a natural fit. I chose paediatrics as children are way more fun than adults!

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love the variety – the fact you can be looking after a sick child in resus one minute then taking a pea out of someone’s nose the next. It never gets boring.

We see patients and parents at their most vulnerable, and making a child better, pain-free or offering reassurance and care is the best feeling in the world. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.

How did you progress through your career?

I gained my sister’s post after six years in the emergency unit. The areas I’m most passionate about are education and bereavement care.

I am into my third and final year of training to be a minor injuries nurse practitioner. The training has helped me to consolidate my skills and know the theory and reasoning behind all the plasters and dressings I have used over the years. Once that is completed, I am considering the advance practice route to becoming a consultant nurse.

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

The emergency unit is a daily challenge. The volume and acuity of patients can sometimes be difficult. Making sure every patient in your department is safe, ensuring you are seeing the sickest first and then explaining to parents why their son or daughter needs to wait is an ongoing challenge. We try our hardest every day to provide the best possible care and unfortunately that can affect waiting times.

What achievement makes you most proud?

When I first started in the unit ten years ago our bereavement care was very limited. A colleague and I worked with the 2 Wish upon a Star charity to set up an operating procedure that ensures all our bereaved parents get information and memory boxes, and are followed up by a support worker within 48 hours. This is now an all-Wales procedure, and I was extremely proud that we were finalists in the RCNi Nurse Awards in 2018 for the initiative.

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

Get your head down, work hard and get as much exposure as possible to all different situations. All experience, good or bad, will help you develop into the best nurse you can be.

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

Emergency nursing is a very exciting place to be. Change happens all the time. In Cardiff, we are working towards a single point of entry for paediatrics, combining our emergency unit and assessment unit to create one front door. We may relocate and will have to combine existing teams. I am looking forward to the challenge.


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