12 May 2023

International Nurses Day – A day in the life of a Senior Sister

For International Nurses Day, we wanted to give you an insight into what it is like working as a nurse at University Hospital Southampton and to celebrate one of the hospital’s amazing staff.

Mary Reid works as a Senior Sister/Ward Manager on E2 (Young Adult Cardiac Unit) ward. She has been at UHS for 7 years. We interviewed her to find out a bit what her job entails and to hear the difference she has made to those around her.

1.  Tell us a bit about your job

I am currently the ward manager for E2, the young adult cardiac unit which cares for cardiology, cardiac surgery and congenital heart disease patients. Our patients are 16 years old and above, and their conditions vary greatly, from cardiac rhythm issues to pre and post open heart surgery.

Mary Reid - Senior Sister/Ward Manager in the Young Adult Cardiac Unit

My role involves working on the ward and caring directly for patients, but also includes making sure that the unit is running smoothly and managing the ward team. I am currently seconded to this role and will be moving to D3 ward once it transfers over to the cardiovascular and thoracic care group later this year, a challenge which I am very much looking forward to.

2. Describe a typical day for you

A typical day generally varies. Every day is completely different as we care for such a range of patients. Some of our patients are a day onwards post cardiac surgery, so will require close monitoring and line and drain removal. Others require preparation for surgeries or procedures, ECGs and blood tests. Some patients also require medication changes, continuous infusions and cardiac monitoring. When in charge of the ward, I have to ensure that the nurses on shift are supported and staffing levels are safe, ensure myself and my team respond quickly to acute changes to patients’ conditions, coordinate discharges home, work together with the wider multidisciplinary team and support patients and their families.

3. What do you enjoy about your job?

One of the things I most enjoy about my job is getting to meet and look after people from many different backgrounds and having to adapt to the ever-changing demands of the ward. I love caring for a vast variety of patients and the satisfaction you get from being part of a team that constantly strives to make changes to improve their experience and care.

I also love working within the cardiac speciality. Both UHS and the care group I work in provide an environment that allows me to continue to learn and improve, as well as where I can support the development of my colleagues. I am passionate about education and developing staff, and my job role gives me the opportunity to do this. I really love watching the people I work with grow and progress; I get a lot of satisfaction from being a part of their journey.

4. What made you want to be a nurse?

I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to work with people and be able to make a difference; this brings me a lot of joy. Although challenging at times, I feel it is a real privilege to look after people at some of the most vulnerable times of their lives.

5. Why University Hospital Southampton?

UHS has allowed me to grow and develop over the last 7 years as a nurse, from a student, and now to a ward leader. I love that it strives for world class care and supports improvement and transformation, something that I too am very passionate about. I still have a lot of growth and development that I need to do as a leader and I feel UHS is the right environment to allow me to do this.

6. Tell us about a memorable moment in your career

One memory that sticks out in my mind is a long-term patient we had who had been with us many weeks after cardiac surgery. She was struggling with the amount of time she had spent in hospital which was making her feel very low and reluctant to walk around and keep her mobility. We designed a ‘treasure hunt’ for her around the ward where she had to follow clues to get to the next clue. She loved it, it gave her a boost from the sometimes (for patients) monotonous hospital routine; but also got her moving to help aid her recovery. Seeing the difference this small thing made to our patient’s mental health and motivation to get better made me feel extremely fulfilled. It reminded me that small acts and thinking outside the box can make a huge difference to an individual and the time they spend in hospital.

Here are some of the wonderful things that Mary’s team had to say about the difference she has made:

Tasha Maunders Senior HCA: “Mary has a positive, enthusiastic attitude and is an inspiration to all. She has influenced my learning in many ways over the last 3 years including my own motivation to not only succeed in my role, but to always improve on my knowledge. She has always listened and guided me the best way possible to help me reach my full potential, whether that be something immediately on the ward with a patient or something I wish to achieve in my career path. Mary is a fundamental staff member here on E2 and is at the core of us working as a team to ensure patient care is at the heart of everything we do. Mary shows devotion and all 6cs to all patients no matter their limitations/requirements and will offer her assistance to anyone who needs it. I especially like that she provides clarity, by setting clear instructions on how to achieve or perform something and therefor accomplishing the tasks in hand.”

Aimee Venables NQN on E2: “I first met Mary when I was a 2nd year student and she guided me to achieve better. She has great skills in teaching, is open, honest, approachable, and always encouraged me to improve my knowledge and skills. I have worked with Mary also as a newly qualified nurse on E2 mostly whilst she has been in a band 7 role and have found her to be a very supportive leader. You can see straight away that she is a very caring and compassionate nurse and a pleasure to work with.”

Liz O’Brein HCA: “Mary has been fantastic stepping in over the past year as our ward manager. She has always gone above and beyond for all members of staff and our patients. Mary is always coming up with new ideas on how we can improve the ward and makes sure it is a great place to work. I love how Mary is always making sure all members of staff are happy in our roles and her door is always open when you need a chat. She is always approachable and happy to listen. I love the energy Mary brings to the ward and she can always improve staff morale if and when we are all feeling a bit low or tired.”

We would like to thank Mary for her time and thank her for all the hard work and care she shows in her job and to all those around her.

To apply to work at University Hospital Southampton, see UHS’s Nursing Careers Page.

To find out about a portable cardiac monitor that the Charity recently funded for the Cardiac High Dependency Unit, see our making patient monitoring portable with a new cardiac monitor blog post.

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