A bit of background first. I started my nursing career back in 1982, I had just turned 19 and had been working at a plant nursery since I was 16. I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I certainly did not want to grow plants for the rest of my life. My aunt was already a nurse and suggested that I apply to train. It was not something I’d ever thought about doing, but with the attitude of “I’ll give it a go and see if I like it”, I started my nursing career.
And I am so glad I did.
Now, nearly 40 years later, I’ve realised how far I have come and how much this career has given me. The Matron at my training hospital told me never to stay in one job for too long. If you start to feel less enthusiastic or burnt out, then move on to other things. I will not bore you with my cv, suffice to say I’ve had a few jobs and it’s quite long. I have loved every one of them and have gained so much, I have also made lifelong friends.
I started working as a freelance trainer with ECG in 2016. I had just finished working as a freelance Clinical Research Nurse in London and didn’t feel like going back into mainstream nursing again. I had some experience over the years of training others, mostly in Manual Handling and Health and Safety. So, I took up a position with a nursing agency teaching their new recruits before they went into the community. Then an opportunity came up for a freelance role with ECG. I did a bit of research into the company, looked at some reviews and sent my CV in.
I have never looked back.
I started with just teaching Manual Handling, then I added Basic Life Support to my repertoire. This year the opportunity came up for me to work as a full-time clinical trainer. So, I applied for the position and started on 1st February 2021.
It hasn’t always been plain sailing, I’ve previously taught new starters or student nurses, this role I was also training health professionals with years of experience. I shadowed other trainers at first and picked up a few tips. Now, it’s easy and tempting to copy what the other trainers do, but it doesn’t always work. You must find your own pace and style, and you have to know your audience. My passion is Manual handling and looking after peoples backs. But it can be a dry subject if you just follow the books.
I don’t teach that way. I don’t often use PowerPoint as it can cause your listeners to glaze over. I often throw in a few anecdotes to make my point, but not too many so the session becomes about you. It does open conversation with the delegates though. My goal is to make the training as close to real life as possible and focus on the demographics and needs of the delegates.
There is a risk that you could feel isolated out there training every day, after all you do not often see or work with your colleagues. However, I’ve never felt that I always feel supported by everyone in the office and the other trainers are contactable by phone, email or WhatsApp.
My first 6 weeks in this new role has been a blast. I have met so many people and have been to loads of different places. I’ve even driven to London at 4 o’clock in the morning, in the snow (and yes it was nerve racking). I’ve picked up tips from other health professionals, I’ve used equipment that I haven’t seen in years, and I’ve been hoisted from the floor so many times that I’m contemplating installing one for my old age.
If you are wanting to move on to the next stage in your career as a health professional, have a think about becoming a trainer.
I promise, you will not regret it.
Written by Susanne Ladyman (ECG Clinical Trainer), Monday 22nd March 2021