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Niece’s birth inspired Arlene to become nurse at 37

10 May 2017

Health Care

Arlene Bartholomew has been a qualified nurse since 2009, coming into nursing at the age of 37. Having previously worked in mostly bar jobs she was inspired to do something more worthwhile after seeing her great niece be born at Southend Hospital in 2005.

Arlene, now 46, has been Deputy Ward Manager of the hospital's respiratory unit for the last four years.

She said: "I was a student nurse here and just loved looking after the patients and working with a great supportive team of nursing staff across all levels. The ward was originally focussed on infectious diseases and endocrinology, but then changed to respiratory care, which was perfect timing for a change of direction. I guess you could say that I loved it that much that I stayed."

And Arlene chose to make her career at Southend as it is the place where she lives. She said: "I couldn't face the journey to London and back, especially after a long day and I'm not in my 20s anymore. Also, doing my nursing training at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) I met a lot of other students who work here, so a lot of my peers are in Southend."

She very much sees her role as a supportive one for other staff on the ward, the person that people can turn to and be their point of contact. Of a typical day, Arlene said: "No two days are ever the same and you never know what is going to crop up. In respiratory care you look after patients with any form of respiratory illness, so that could be chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), those with asthma, tracheostomy patients or patients with cystic fibrosis. So you can have patients of diverse age ranges with very different care needs."

She concluded: "Going into nursing was the best thing I've ever done, I wouldn't want to do anything else. I really feel appreciated in my role, whether that appreciation comes from a patient, relative or from a member of your team. I'm proud to wear the uniform."