Our Blog

Six reasons why I decided to become a hospice nurse after I graduated from university

In this blog:

Meet Laura

When Laura finished her nursing degree at the University of Southampton, she was faced with the challenge of deciding what do to next. She chose to get some experience working on a hospital ward and found caring for people towards the end of their lives particularly rewarding. So, when a nursing role came up at St Barnabas House, she knew straight away that she wanted to go for it. Laura joined the hospice Community Team a year after graduating and has never looked back.

The support was there right from the start

I was only 22 when I got the job at St Barnabas House. I’d not long come out of uni and I remember my friends saying, “Oh my goodness, how are you going to be able to cope looking after people who are so unwell?”, but I knew I wanted to help people at such an important time in their lives.

I was a bit worried at first because I was young, but everyone made me feel so welcome and for the first four months I had the opportunity to get experience on the in-patient unit as well as caring for people in their own homes. Working on the hospice ward was invaluable as I was surrounded by nurses, doctors and healthcare assistants who I could talk to and learn from. My confidence grew and grew, and it wasn’t long before I made the decision to just focus on community care – there is something really special about looking after people in their own homes.

Helping people to remain at home is so rewarding

A lot of people don’t realise that most hospice care happens in people’s own homes, out in the community. For many of the patients I see, it’s the place that they feel most comfortable, where they are surrounded by their belongings and the people they love the most. To be able to give them the option to remain at home in their last few months, weeks, and days and to make sure they are as comfortable as possible is so rewarding. I get to meet their pets, listen to family stories, and share in so many other precious moments.

It’s refreshing to help break down the taboos around hospice care and dying

Sometimes families say to me that they were worried about my first visit, but they’re often really surprised and say it’s nothing like what they expected. I think there’s a lot of stigma around palliative and end-of-life care and people can feel scared because there are a lot of unknowns. Sometimes there might be conversations they are scared to have, but when they open up and ask questions it can be a big relief. I’m able to talk them through what might to expect on their journey and to help take some of the fear out of dying. People always say how comforting and reassuring it is to have such open conversations.

It’s a really uplifting place to work

My first experience of St Barnabas House was when I was 12 and I visited my uncle in the old hospice building. Even back then I remember thinking what a lovely place it was to be. My uncle was happy and pain free and surrounded by smiling, caring nurses. Now I’ve become a hospice nurse myself, I love that I am able to provide that same level of care I saw when I was a little girl – helping patients to live every day they have left as positively and peacefully as possible.

Yes, there are sad moments because as nurses we develop strong relationships with patients and walk with their families through some of life’s most difficult moments. But when my team are all in the office together it’s never sad or depressing because we all love what we do and the difference we can make. We talk, laugh and occasionally cry together, but whatever happens everyone is so supportive.

There are so many career development opportunities

I’ve been at the hospice for three years now and the number of new opportunities I’ve had in that time has been incredible. I’ve worked on the in-patient unit, in the Hospice at Home team and I was even given the opportunity to try out the role of Team Leader for five months, coordinating 30 nurses and care support workers in the community. It was a huge learning curve and really pushed me outside my comfort zone, so when a new position as a Senior Registered Nurse came up recently, I was able to apply and got the job because of my range of experience. In this new role I’m working alongside Clinical Nurse Specialists, going out to see people who are in crisis or might have rapidly deteriorated. The patients I see can have really complex conditions, which means I’m always learning and developing my skills with help from my team.

The thanks you get from families means so much

As a hospice nurse you are there to guide families and patients as they near their last days. It can be hard work, but I honestly don’t think there’s a more rewarding career path, especially when the families get in touch after their loved one has died. Recently I received a card and a bunch of flowers from a family whose mum I had cared for, saying how comfortable she’d been and how they couldn’t have asked for anything more. When you get that positive feedback after a long day, it gives you such a boost.

Job opportunities

If you’re a nurse and you’ve been inspired by Laura’s journey, we’d love to hear from you.

Check our our latest job opportunities

Found this blog interesting?

Why not share with your friends and family on social media

Share on Facebook