Staff career stories - Benjamin
A unique pathway from band 5 adult nursing to specialising in learning disability nursing practice.
Where did your band 5 nursing journey begin?
I moved to Bournemouth in September 2012 to study nursing at Bournemouth University and qualified as a band 5 adult nurse in 2016. Bournemouth University has very strong links with Dorset HealthCare, so throughout my course I secured a placement with one of the Trust’s local District Nursing teams in Boscombe. I loved the placement and from this experience I knew that I wanted to become a community nurse after qualifying. I applied for a job at Dorset HealthCare in the Bournemouth community nursing service and started my first paid role as a band 5 community nurse at Marine Surgery based in Southbourne.
What made you decide to work for Dorset HealthCare in particular?
My favourite university placement was at Dorset HealthCare and having had first-hand experience of working for the Trust’s excellent community team, it was a natural fit to apply after university. I really believe Dorset HealthCare is a great Trust to work for, with very gifted leaders and managers, which makes a massive difference to where you work.
"Whilst our home visits always have structure, purpose and tasks to complete, we are able to take time to complete our assessments and get to know the person we are working with in a deep way. It makes the job very satisfying and the relationships very meaningful."
How have you grown personally and professionally at Dorset HealthCare?
There’s a wide range of career opportunities within Dorset HealthCare. After a few years working for the Trust within the District Nursing team as a band 5 adult nurse, I discovered a different type of community nursing role – learning disability nursing. I have a few friends who have learning disabilities, so have always been aware of some of the challenges and struggles they face, but I hadn’t ever considered moving into this field as a nurse. I applied to a vacancy with the Bournemouth Community Learning Disabilities Service, and to my surprise was offered the job! I’ve since been able to develop my career further and take on more responsibility as a band 6 Specialist Practitioner in the team. There are so many opportunities to develop – even one of my colleagues joined the learning disabilities nursing team after qualifying as a mental health nurse. She has also now developed her career too and serves as one of three band 7 managers in our teams.
On a day-to-day basis the huge variety of work I do in my role has helped me to improve my skills in lots of areas. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, or different areas of focus and enjoyment, but the range of work I do means I’ve had to consistently learn new skills, and how to apply them in a range of different settings, and with a very diverse array of service users. I think more than anything, I’ve become more holistic in my practice.
What do you enjoy most about working for the learning disabilities service?
I particularly enjoy the diversity of nursing work I am asked to do in the service. I have cases with a Physical Health focus, such as supporting people in hospital or those who are very unwell. I also work with people with complex mental health issues or personality disorders. And I also get the chance to support other care teams and professionals by coordinating complex meetings and managing risky situations. It’s such a wide range of skills to learn, and there are new challenges every day.
"I really believe Dorset HealthCare is a great Trust to work for, with very gifted leaders and managers, which makes a massive difference to where you work. The Trust is incredibly supportive, whether you want to move upwards in responsibility, across teams, or deeper in your current role. And that support makes all the difference."
And your favourite part of the role?
The best thing about my role is the close work I’m able to do with service users and their families. Whilst our visits do always have structure, purpose and tasks to complete, we are able to take time to complete our assessments and get to know the person we are working with in a deep way. It makes the job very satisfying and the relationships very meaningful.
What would you say to someone considering applying to work at Dorset HealthCare to progress their band 5 career?
I’d encourage applicants that the Trust is a great place to build a career, and really develop both your practice and character too. I’ve worked alongside band 5 nurses who have been in the same job for 20 years and they have focussed on developing an intense expertise which only comes from that kind of experience and dedication. Likewise, I’ve worked alongside people who have enjoyed a large variety of different roles or were supported to progress to management or specialist positions. The Trust is incredibly supportive, whether you want to move upwards in responsibility, across teams or deeper in your current role. And that support makes all the difference.