My job

‘Listen to what the children and young people are saying to you’

Chair of the Association of Chief Children's Nurses and Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital chief nursing officer Michelle McLoughlin explains what made her want to be a nurse.

Chair of the Association of Chief Children's Nurses and Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital chief nursing officer Michelle McLoughlin explains what made her want to be a nurse.

Michelle_McLoughlin

What is your job?

I am the chief nursing officer at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital. It’s the best job in the world. I also have a national platform as chair of the Association of Chief Children’s Nurses.

Why did you become a children’s nurse?

Like many people, I went into nursing for a variety of reasons. The main one was, as a 14 year old, I remember my family nursing my grandfather, who was dying at home. I wanted to help, but did not know how. This made me want to learn what to do.

I went on to train to be a children’s nurse because my aunt and uncle’s son died at a young age, many years ago, at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital. They talked about this incredible place that looked after their son and other children, and looked after them as parents. Although the loss of their precious child was terribly sad, they told me stories of how amazing the hospital was and even now, at 93, my aunt tells the same stories of the hospital that enabled her to see her beautiful boy for just a few years more.

What might you have done otherwise?

An air hostess. Odd I know, but I quite liked the uniforms, especially the hats. You can imagine how devastated I was as a nurse when we lost our hats.

Where did you train?

I trained in at East Birmingham Hospital, now re-named Birmingham Heartlands.

Where have you worked previously?

I have been fortunate to have worked in most of the hospitals in Birmingham. I trained as a district nurse and worked in community settings across the whole of the city as an adult and children’s district nurse.

What do you enjoy most about nursing?

The people. I have worked with some amazing people through my career and I have been in the privileged position of caring for other people’s children. As a nurse, I have had so much joy working with and helping children and young people. Their bravery and tenacity never ceases to amaze me, and there are many times I am in awe of their ability to cope.

In February 2017, the children’s and women’s hospitals joined to become the first women’s and children’s hospital in Europe. This meant my role was expanded and I am now in a great position of working in an adult setting again.

What is your greatest challenge?

Making sure that the women, children and their families get the care they deserve in times of financial austerity.

What would you change if you could?

Not sure I would change anything about my job. Every day often feels like a ‘school day’ because there is always something to learn when working with people.

What qualities do you think a good children’s nurse should possess?

I asked a group of our children and young people this question. They told me ‘nurses need to be kind and smiley’, and ‘need to make sure mum and dad are fine because then I will be fine’.

What inspires you?

This is easy: children, young people and my staff.

Outside work what do you enjoy doing?

Being with family and friends.

What achievement makes you most proud?

Becoming the chief nurse of the hospital that my family talked about throughout the years I grew up.

What advice would give a newly-qualified children’s nurse?

Listen to what the children and young people are saying to you, and listen to their families. Remember that they always know their child better than you or any machine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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