My job

From car salesman to palliative care children's nurse

A chance encounter led Neil Evans to become a nurse at a hospice charity providing children and young people with end-of-life care. Here, he reflects on his experiences

A chance encounter led Neil Evans to become a nurse at a hospice charity providing children and young people with end-of-life care. Here, he reflects on his experiences


Neil Evans tried computer programming and selling cars before becoming a nurse

Recently I was privileged and saddened to be part of a small team of nurses providing bespoke, family-centred end-of-life care for a 16-year-old boy. 

He wanted to leave hospital and go home and Julia’s House, an organisation that has hospices based in Dorset and Wiltshire, swung into action putting the emergency care in place to make this last wish a reality.

When he died, in the early hours of the morning, I was there with his family and found it a time to reflect on life, my profession and the wonderful organisation that I have the fortune to be involved with.

Career choice

I remember thinking about how my career changed so remarkably, and the training and experiences that had led me to be part of Julia’s House. I haven’t always been a nurse – indeed I have had a varied career.

I started out in 2003 as a computer programmer. But then jacked all this in and set off with a 15kg backpack to tour South East Asia. During this time, I taught English to a class of Buddhist monks and helped with maintenance in the local temple and village. 

'I didn’t lose touch with Julia’s House during my four years of training but went from being a volunteer to becoming a bank care team member'

There was a real feel-good factor to these jobs, so, when I came home I decided to embark on the one career that epitomises and embraced that ethos – car sales. It was pure chance that I was the first out onto the forecourt when Martin Edwards, chief executive of Julia’s House, came by one day looking for a second-hand car. 

He told me a bit about Julia’s House and it sounded like a fantastic charity, so much so that less than six months later I was volunteering for the family support team as a sibling worker. A sibling worker is someone who helps with the events we put on for siblings of the poorly children we look after. 

As I began to understand more about the organisation and how important is was, I was encouraged to pursue a career in nursing by a senior nurse who ended up being a mentor to me. 

I went off to university to study children's nursing and, after graduation, took further training to gain my public health nursing registration.

Keeping in touch

I didn’t lose touch with Julia’s House during these four years but went from being a volunteer to becoming a bank care team member – a great way to build experience and be part of the team ahead of finishing my studies. Although not yet fully qualified, I could help out with respite sessions. 

Once I qualified I became a bank nurse. These were exciting times and within two years I was delighted to be part of the team that was working towards the opening of the Julia’s House Devizes hospice in Wiltshire. It was my first full-time position as a team nurse. 

I have seen the service grow and develop and I have always been encouraged to aim towards a senior role. This support and the opportunities within the organisation have matched my enthusiasm and passion for the work.

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About the author

Neil Evans is a senior team nurse at Julia’s House Children’s Hospices.

Julia’s House is recruiting for its Dorset and Wiltshire hospices. Click here to apply 

 

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