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Rachel Houston

Rachel HoustonI trained as a student nurse within UHBristol and I loved each of the five clinical placements I had here. So, when I qualified as a registered nurse I was delighted to secure a full time post as a staff nurse.

During my preceptorship year I was given training, support, encouragement and kindness from my colleagues and my manager. I have deep respect for many of my colleagues (from a variety of disciplines) I can rely upon them for support and guidance and we aim to support each other as much as possible in practice to achieve excellent patient care.  The manager of the ward was fundamental to my development then (and still is now). She instilled a culture of honesty and openness, she was approachable, understanding and made me feel not only supported but also hugely valued. The support I got during my preceptorship year enabled me to develop into a proficient staff nurse.

"I began to accept more responsibility within my role and expanded my knowledge and capabilities when we moved to a larger ward with combined specialities."

Here I was provided with opportunities to learn about the new specialities through informal training, study days on the ward and specific study days related to specialist practice, this enhanced my expertise and allowed me to develop my practice further.

Following getting married my husband secured a sabbatical opportunity abroad for five months. I thought for a long time about what I should do about this. I wanted to continue to contribute to shape our new ward and loved my job but I also knew that I would never get an opportunity to travel like this ever again. I discussed this with my manager who was understanding and encouraged my application for a five month career break. My matron and the Trust supported this career break and my application was successful. I was so pleased, not only did it mean that I could return to the job that I care about but it also made me feel valued, invested in and appreciated by the Trust. It was an unexpected but incredible gesture which demonstrated the Trusts support for my personal as well as professional development.

On returning to the ward following my career break, I was eager and enthusiastic to re-join the Trust and develop myself further to enhance the care provided to our patients. At appraisals with my manager, my career development was explored and I was given opportunities to undertake additional training that would improve my practice. For example, I recognised that I needed more confidence in leading in emergency situations and was promptly able to attend the intermediate life support course. I also recognised that I wanted to improve the provision of end of life care for patients on our ward and was supported financially by the Trust to undertake an End of Life Care Masters level module. Having the opportunity to attend study days and courses like this are so important for maintaining and developing my practice which in turn improves patients experience of care. The commitment of the Trust to encourage continuing professional development is something that I value and appreciate hugely.

More recently an opportunity arose in the Trust for a 12 month secondment post to be a clinical nurse specialist. I had the full support of my manager and my matron to apply for this role and succeeded in gaining the secondment. This is a role in which I am learning so much and increasing my knowledge and expertise greatly.

I feel that my career has been able to thrive within this Trust. At no point have I felt that I am unable to move forward into different roles. I have been given opportunities to develop and grow and have been supported and encouraged to do this.

"I feel very loyal to this Trust and proud to work for it."