Anna Obi is a staff grade nurse working in the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland. Anna has been working there since 2006, when she left her job at BUPA (originally, the British United Provident Association), a private hospital specializing in elective surgery. When asked if she preferred working in private practice as opposed to the National Health Service (NHS), she stated that the NHS provides more training and experience when starting out and is a much better fit for her.
Anna came to Edinburgh to study nursing and has happily stayed after graduating. She feels like she has found her niche in infectious disease nursing and thoroughly enjoys her work. The infectious disease unit at Edinburgh’s Western General cares for patients with HIV, TB, and Hepatitis A, B and C. Patients often stay for extended periods of time to complete treatments, which is an aspect of the job that Anna enjoys because she feels blessed to be able to see folks often improve dramatically with treatment.
Anna works 12 ½ hour shifts from 7:00am - 7:30pm, and she says that she likes this system as she has more days off. Even though her schedule varies, she never works more than 37 ½ hours a week - full time in the UK. Her colleagues with small children enjoy a similar schedule as they have more days off to spend with the family. Another benefit is that Anna also has the option of working overtime to earn extra money. Anna does, however, want a rotating shift pattern so she can plan her personal time better.
While Anna thoroughly enjoys her job and the team she works with, she tells me that the NHS is understaffed, and there are simply not enough nurses or funding to fill the positions. Most of the wards are short staffed and under pressure to meet Government standards. The UK has a rapidly rising immigrant population, and in regards to infectious disease nursing, an increase in HIV cases among Africans.
Anna feels the managers in the NHS are unrealistic stating that, “they make policies without extra staff to implement them”. She also feels there is a lack of resources and has, at times, had to cancel going on a study day due to short staffing. On the other hand, the positives of working in the UK are abundant; annual leave and a good request system for time, which, so far, is working well for her; a high standard of care for the patients; and well-trained staff. She is involved in student training in her post and really enjoys this aspect of her work.
When asked if she would recommend nursing as a profession, she strongly confirmed she would, but would advise students to be realistic about the work pressures of the job and to find a supportive department to work in. Overall, the UK is a great place to work. In fact, many nurses from other countries come to the UK. She has worked with travel nurses from Australia, New Zealand and various European countries. Anna recommends that if someone is interested in coming to the UK to work as a nurse, it is important to have a good mastery of the English language, as she has found some of her colleagues have struggled in this regard.
Anna often becomes attached to her patients as she nurses them anywhere from 6 months to a year. She loves the activity and buzz of her job, and loves that no day is the same. She also loves being part of a multi-disciplinary team, with the physician, dietitian, physical therapist and occupational therapist.
Anna is happy with her profession and finds it very rewarding to see people improve, and at times, recover. She enjoys her specialty and hopes to use it to do aid work abroad some day.
On a personal note, Anna has recently been married and enjoys traveling, going to the gym, and swimming.
Are you interested in working as a nurse in the UK? If you have questions or advice regarding the nursing profession in a particular country, visit NurseTogether's Global Nursing forum to discuss with other nurses.
By Rebecca Subbiah, RD, LDN, cPT
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