My job

'Work hard, study hard and push boundaries'

Nurse consultant Jason Gray O’Connor set up and leads the children’s emergency department at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton, which has been rated outstanding by the CQC

Nurse consultant Jason Gray O’Connor set up and leads the children’s emergency department at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton, which has been rated outstanding by the CQC

What does your job involve?

I am responsible for providing senior nursing leadership in a dedicated children’s emergency department, sharing my expertise of children’s emergency nursing to ensure the delivery of evidence-based care and providing a service which is child and family focused.  

Why did you become a children’s nurse?

I did my children’s nurse training with the initial aim of achieving a Diploma in Nursing as I had previously trained as a mental health and general nurse at certificate level. However, I fell in love with the speciality and haven’t looked back since.

What might you have done otherwise?

I considered going to college to learn to be a chef initially but realised early on that I was better being served than serving, and I am no good at cooking.

Where did you train?

I did my post-registration children’s nurse training in Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, and before that I trained in Ireland.  

What is your job?

I now work as a paediatric emergency nurse consultant in a emergency department in a children’s hospital, I also work as a specialist advisor for the Care Quality Commission (CQC) as well as being an honorary senior lecturer.

Where have you worked previously?

I have worked in several large teaching hospitals in London in emergency care and general paediatrics, before moving to Brighton.

What do you enjoy most about it? 

Every day is different. I'm fortunate enough to be in a position where I can share my knowledge and skills with junior medical and nursing staff for the benefit of children.

What is the greatest challenge?

Working in a challenged NHS and health economy.

What could you change if you could?

I would like all staff to always feel valued and respected in the NHS but also not feel afraid to challenge poor practice and behaviour.

Where would you like to be in five years’ time?

A chief nurse who makes a difference for patient care.

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

Competence, dedication, compassion, always be child focused keeping the child at the heart of everything you do. Work as hard as you can, take up challenges and study hard to strive and better yourself each day. Reflect on your practice to improve.

What inspires you?

The nurses and doctors I work with daily are an inspiration. Emergency care continues to be challenged by a rise in demand and yet my colleagues in the children’s emergency department rise to these without any complaints. Their passion for ensuring that the care provided is focused on the child and family daily inspires me.

Outside work what do you enjoy doing?

I enjoy socialising with my husband Noel, who is also an emergency nurse. We make a concerted effort to enjoy out time off together with friends - not forgetting our guilty pleasure of an annual trip to the Eurovision Song Contest final.  

What achievement are you proudest of?

The list is endless. Completing my doctorate at King’s College London while working full-time and juggling this with many other professional commitments.

Finding time to marry my husband during my dissertation. Setting up and leading one of the few dedicated children’s EDs which is rated outstanding by CQC. 

Volunteering in Africa and taking advanced paediatric life support to Zambia in 2011 with the Brighton-Lusaka link – an initiative between the Royal Alexandra Hospital and the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, to pass on skills and knowledge and save children’s lives.

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

Follow your heart and be the best nurse you possibly can be for the patients. Always work and study hard to push forward boundaries. Enjoy your job and the opportunities it can bring. 

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