My name is Shauna and I am Clinical Nurse Manager on a children’s burns unit.

I tailor my practice to each child, and make sure they
and their parents are comfortable at every stage of their care. I do my best
to stay positive and calm, to cascade that feeling down to the
ward, the children and their families.

I do this to help children and their families through what can be
an incredibly difficult time in their lives.

I always wanted to do something in
healthcare, that was very apparent for me
from a very young age. And then we had a
talk from two nurses in school, it just
seemed to be such a beautiful way to help
every aspect of life. You could go into it
and be there from birth, right the way up
to end of life, and everything in between.

I did a dual degree and qualified in
children’s and general nursing. Then I
started my career here, on this ward,
before going on to do a graduate diploma
in burns and plastics. That helped me
become Clinical Nurse Manager and
I’ve been qualified now for nearly seven years.

When I tell people I work on a children’s
burns unit, everyone’s initial reaction is,
‘oh…’. But being in burns is great, in that it
is obviously incredibly traumatising for
the child and their families, but for the
vast majority, I mean 99%, they come in to
you, you help them through it, and then
you see them go home and do brilliantly.

Our burns unit here is very nurse-led,
which is what I love. You’re assessing,
you’re deciding on dressing changes,
you’re looking at the wound, you’re
deciding what goes on it, you’re heavily
involved with the child and their parents.
You’re given an opportunity to look at
what you can change for the better,
what’s not working, what can we do better.

In the last couple of years we’ve
introduced a new scald protocol, a
nurse-led specialist service, where they go
straight to theatre, have a thorough clean,
and then have a new dressing we’ve
introduced. Once that’s on, you can
discharge the child after two or three
days, all going well, rather than a week or
two. It’s such a difference.

When we discharge the child, we
discharge them to our nurse-led dressing
clinic, run by our clinical nurse specialists.
Before they’re discharged the nurse
specialist will come into the ward to
introduce themselves to the child and
their families. There’s a beautiful
continuity of care the whole way through,
so the parent knows where their child is
going and there’s a familiar face. It’s just fantastic.

You need to do what suits the child. You
need to gain trust from the child. We have
a child on the ward at the moment and
whenever you go in there you have a little
tea party with her to start with. And after
that, then you can work away and do her
medicines, or her temperature or
whatever she needs.

There’s not a day goes by here where we
don’t laugh, which sounds odd
considering it’s a children’s hospital, but
there really isn’t a day, I can say hand on
heart, where we don’t laugh, or have a
dance, or make a fool of yourself. But
that’s what kids want, they don’t want
someone who’s very serious and clinical.

The job satisfaction, for me, is when you
see the child and their family walking out
the door, giving you a smile and a wave,
and saying, ‘Thanks a million – even
though we were hospitalised, we had a
great time.’ To make someone’s life even the
smallest bit easier, I get so much out of that.

You could go into one room and they
could potentially have had devastating
news. You are there to sympathise, to just
be there for them from an emotional point
of view. You may then go in to another
child and be happy, fun and playful. And
then you could go into another room and
they could be a very unwell child that you
need to be really focused on and really
using every clinical skill you have. The
emotional side of things can be very hard.

I’m the first person from my family to go to
college, or to university. So that was a
huge achievement for both myself and my
family. Then when I got the role of Clinical
Nurse Manager, that was just brilliant. I
wouldn’t have been one to push myself,
but then when the opportunity came up, I
thought, do you know what? Here we go,
let’s do this. And I got it, and I was
delighted. And I love it.

One of my greatest achievements is being
in a job that I love, and really enjoy, and
get so much out of. I think I’m so lucky
because there are so many people that
get up in the morning and are like, here
we go again, but I think I’m so lucky to be
in a job that I adore.

One of my university lecturers said ‘The
day you stop learning in nursing is the day
you need to give up.’ Because you learn
something new every single day. And
especially in children’s nursing, there’s not
a day when the kids don’t teach you
something. That’s what keeps nursing interesting.

We’re the national burns unit here, so
because of that we have a fantastic
multidisciplinary team. As Clinical Nurse
Manager your role is to pull everyone
together, be it physio, occupational
therapy, medical, social worker, our nurse
specialists, our doctors, our play therapy,
everyone. You’re the middle man who
coordinates the patient’s care.

You want to get your less experienced
staff nurses trained up as quickly as
possible. You go through the theory then
the only way that they’re going to learn is
to do the dressing themselves. But you’re
there to support them and talk them
through it, and you’re linking in with
parents the whole way through as well.

A big thing I found difficult from going
from staff nurse to management is that
you can sometimes feel like you’ve taken a
step back from the patients. So I go into
every room in the morning, say hello to
everyone, and introduce myself, which I
think is very, very important, because you
need to be seen on the ward.

Another great piece of advice I got was
you can’t be everything to everyone.
There are days in here where I would love
to split myself into 10 or 12. And I
remember once I was taking a phone call
from bed management, and I had four
doctors calling my name, and it was one
of those days where I thought, you know
what, I’m actually going to change my
name, because if I hear Shauna one more
time…But you need to do your best, and
you need to be a role model.

If you’re stressed out, the staff nurses on
the ward are going to be stressed out, and
the parents are going to be stressed out.
And that is just not what you need, they
don’t need my stress on top of their own.
But if I’m calm, that can filter down. One of
the parents said to me once, ‘Shauna,
you’re always having a laugh. You never
seem stressed out.’ And that, to me was,
well, I’m doing my job properly.

Nothing’s ever going to get done if you’re
trying to do it all at once. One of the
students was very overwhelmed the other
day, and she was getting a little bit
emotional saying ‘I feel like I’m not doing
anything, but I have so much to do.’ And
we just stood in the treatment room, took
a couple of deep breaths, and I said, ‘Okay,
what needs to be done?’ And we made a plan.

No nurse is an island. We’re a team. You
can’t do everything yourself and it’s so
important to know when to ask for help.
Definitely. That’s what keeps everyone going.