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Meet the UK's first consultant nurse in paediatric electrophysiology and inherited cardiac conditions

Years ago Cath Renwick doubted her academic ability but now she leads on research and has a pioneering role

Years ago Cath Renwick doubted her academic ability but now she leads on research and has a pioneering role

Picture shows consultant nurse in paediatric electrophysiology and inherited cardiac conditions Cath Renwick
Consultant nurse in paediatric electrophysiology and inherited cardiac conditions Cath Renwick

When asked about what advice she would give to nurses starting out, without hesitation Cath Renwick says it is important to seize every chance to boost your skills through further study.

Ms Renwick has become the UK’s first consultant nurse in paediatric electrophysiology and inherited cardiac conditions, a post funded by The Ben Williams Trust.

She has worked for the past 20 years at the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust where she has led the paediatric inherited cardiac conditions and electrophysiology service for the past four years.

Yet Ms Renwick did not always consider herself student material.

Work experience placement in a nursery

‘I did Project 2000 training instead of doing a degree when they were just bringing that in. Back then, I didn’t think I was academically good enough to get through a degree.

‘When Project 2000 was being implemented, people thought you weren’t going to get very high calibre nurses out of it, I thought “Huh, well, there you go”.’

At school she knew she wanted to work with children and so she did a work experience placement in a nursery. ‘I enjoyed it, but felt that I wouldn’t be able to progress far with it.’

At the age of 21, she decided to train as a children’s nurse, securing a place at Thames Valley University (now the University of West London), based in Ealing.

Interest in arrythmias or irregular heartbeats

She then joined the Royal Brompton Hospital where her interest in arrythmias or irregular heartbeats began while on the intensive care unit. While there, she met Jan Till, consultant paediatric electrophysiologist and divisional director of children’s cardiac services and an international expert in this field.

‘I was in awe of Dr Till. She was a female cardiologist among a lot of men working in this highly specialist area and that was amazing. She has been a fantastic role model.’

In 2004, Ms Renwick became a cardiac liaison nurse, further developing her interest in arrhythmias and becoming the link for arrhythmias in the cardiac nurse specialist team.

‘I worked closely with Dr Till in clinics, learning as much as I possibly could.’

Charity-funded specialist post

Then in 2008 The Ben Williams Trust offered to fund the post of a nurse dedicated to children’s arrhythmias. ‘Ben Williams sadly died from an inherited heart condition in 2006 and his parents wanted to do something in his memory. The charity raised the funds to support a dedicated nurse.’

She has run a nurse-led clinic and been a nurse prescriber for the past ten years. In her new role she will be leading new research and educating other staff in this relatively new field.

‘We are hoping that we will be able to develop a science programme supporting nurses through any research they are doing and supporting nurses who want to have an academic clinical career in the longer term.’

Once she can settle on a research topic, she plans to apply to do a PhD. ‘I have a different idea every week. It may be something around quality of life for teenagers with inherited conditions. There are so many interesting areas I could choose.’


Find out more

The Ben Williams Trust supports children with arrhythmias and their families

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