Life as a new senior nurse

Nickola Amin launches her monthly blog six months after taking up her senior post in emergency care

Remember the third-year nursing student holding her hand proudly in the air when the lecturer at university asked: ‘Who knows what they want to be in ten years?’ That was me. I was the one who announced: ‘I want to be Matron!’

I've often thought back to that moment and asked myself why I had that aspiration. Well, it's because I love ‘the team’, I love to see a group of people come together, empowered to make change and enjoying their work because they have a boss who listens to them and makes work a place they feel appreciated. The patients? Well, in turn they are exceptionally well cared for and receive the best outcomes from the said team...

I took up post as directorate senior nurse for emergency medicine at Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, Wiltshire, six months ago. Before that I worked in emergency care in London, at St George’s as acting matron and then at the Whittington as lead nurse.

I had never considered though that becoming a senior nurse would be so challenging. All those years spent learning clinical skills made me an expert clinician but they hadn't prepared me to be of equal standing as a leader.

Remember when you first did a night shift? That sickness in the pit of your stomach: fear and excitement wrapped up in one? That was the first time you were in charge of the night shift, no one as senior to help you out, no one to fall back on; it was you calling the shots and making it work.

Well, I regret to tell you that that feeling returns the moment you realise that the department you’re in is yours to run, that the buck stops with you and that, not only do you run the shift, but you also hold the key to making the team successful.

The good news? Of course, we left our first night shift in charge exhausted but empowered, invigorated and satisfied that, yes, we could do it! In the same way, as department lead, you learn that your role is immensely satisfying, rewarding and inspiring.

I'm starting a series of monthly blogs on about leadership and the role of a matron or manager for those starting out. We have access to some fantastic articles and resources about leadership but, for me, one of the most important things early on in my role was to be able to talk to others, in similar roles, and know that what I was experiencing and feeling was normal.

Doubt? Normal!

Feeling overwhelmed? Normal!

My guilty pleasure since I was about nine years old has been BBC One’s Casualty; it's the reason I do what I do some 25 years later. Okay, it's not as glamorous as on the telly but it's all I wanted and more.

I hope this has given you a flavour of the blogs I plan to serialise over the coming months. But I’m keen to hear from you too so we can share your thoughts and feelings each month in response what you read, in my blog but also more widely on We can stay in touch by posting comments and ideas in the emergency care area of RCNi Hub.

About the author

Nickola AminNickola Amin is directorate senior nurse for emergency medicine at Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, Wiltshire

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