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60 seconds with sepsis specialist nurse Clair Sandy

Clair Sandy, a sepsis specialist nurse in a hospital emergency department, talks about her work responsibilities, how she has developed her skills and her best lesson from nursing

Clair Sandy, a sepsis specialist nurse in a hospital emergency department, talks about her work responsibilities, how she has developed her skills and her best lesson from nursing


Clair Sandy says her top priority at work is treating patients in a timely manner.

After qualifying as a nurse in 2010 from De Montfort University in Leicester, Clair Sandy took up a band 5 staff nurse post in the department for infectious diseases and tropical medicine at Leicester Royal Infirmary. In 2012 she moved to the hospital’s adult intensive care unit (ITU), where she worked for four years before taking up her current post as a band 6 critical care outreach and sepsis specialist nurse in the emergency department. She is married with a four-year-old son.

What are your main work responsibilities?

I manage acutely unwell patients in the emergency department (ED) and review patients who meet ‘red flag’ sepsis criteria, treating them accordingly if it is sepsis. I also advocate antibiotic stewardship, educate staff at all levels, and act as a bridge between the ED and intensive care (ITU) to ensure timely treatment, review and referral to ITU where appropriate.

How did you get your job?

I was working in adult ITU when the opportunity arose to join a new service, then known as the ED sepsis team.

Who are your clients/patients?

All adult patients within the ED. The wider critical care outreach team also cover all adult inpatient areas across the trust.

What do you love about your job?

The variety of patients and the pace of the work. As an external service working in the ED, we sometimes have the luxury of spending a little more time with our patients – reassuring them and explaining what is happening – which I really enjoy.

What do you find most difficult?

It can be very hard when a patient is not going to recover and palliative care is the only option left, but I take pride in trying to provide good quality end of life care.

What is your top priority at work?

Treating patients in a timely manner and feeling I have made a difference by providing gold standard care.

How have you developed your skills in this role?

I have recently gone back to De Montfort University to study for a post-graduate degree. I have become competent in venepuncture, cannulation and arterial blood gases, and teaching and speaking at conferences has improved my communication skills.

What has been your most formative career experience?

The most valuable experience I have had to date has been my time in ITU. I had brilliant mentors who helped me develop my patient assessment skills and understand how all the body systems are anatomically and physiologically connected.

If you hadn’t become a nurse, what would you have done instead?

I would have been a vet. I am animal mad and have a dog – a Dogue de Bordeaux called Star.

What will be your next career move?

I can’t see myself leaving acute medicine any time soon but I enjoy teaching, so a potential long-term goal would be to move into lecturing. I like to feel I am making a difference to practice by promoting excellence in clinical skills.

What is the best lesson nursing has taught you?

No matter how well-educated a nurse you are, or how advanced clinically, the patient will remember the nurse who asked their name, made them a cup of tea and held their hand when they were scared. Humility can go a long way in our job and the most basic of things are so important.

What career advice would you give your younger self?

Have more confidence in yourself. It isn’t easy but trust your judgement and keep asking questions, no matter how silly you think they are. Nobody knows everything, but everyone knows something.

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