What do you do, Patrick?

Patrick is a matron on the neonatal unit at Evelina London
Colourful question marks drawn by a child

""May 2024

What do you do?

I’m a matron on the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Evelina London Children's Hospital. I have been nursing for almost 40 years now. I qualified as a registered general nurse in 1988, completed the neonatal intensive care course (ENB 405) in 1992 and then became a registered midwife in 1994 – 1 of only 67 male midwives in the UK at the time! I then went on to complete the advanced neonatal nurse practitioner course in 2009. I have been a matron for 4 and half years now.

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

I decided to become a nurse for 3 reasons!

  1. I left school in 1984 and there was high unemployment in the West Midlands where I was born. Lots of my family members worked in the NHS as nurses and midwives (my mum was a midwife) so I was easily persuaded to pursue nursing as a secure and rewarding career.
  2. I was admitted to hospital when I was 16 and was very impressed by the nurses who looked after me. Their skill, knowledge and kindness shone through and I talked to them about nursing as a career. They made it sound very attractive and something that I would like to do.
  3. I always wanted to work abroad and being a registered nurse allowed me to do this – I have worked in the USA, Saudi Arabia and Australia.

What are you passionate about?

Maintaining best practice of care and making sure the babies and parents on the neonatal unit receive the high standards of nursing care that I would expect any of my family to receive.

I love developing junior nurses in their careers and it gives me great satisfaction seeing them progress from nervous staff nurses to highly competent NICU nurses. It's important that we nurture the next generation of nurses and give them the opportunities to flourish and grow.

What is your favourite part of your job?

Working with the awesome team on the neonatal unit – everyone's role is so important and we cannot function without each other which helps us to achieve the best outcomes for the babies and families we care for.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am very keen on recruitment and retention. There is a national shortage of qualified neonatal nurses so I am working hard on recruiting nurses to come and work on our wonderful neonatal unit and then getting them to stay. Retention is a big challenge in all NHS Trusts in London because of the high cost of living and travel expenses. Making sure our nursing staff can reach their full potential and supporting them to do this helps retention and is a reason people want to work here.

What is your proudest moment?

I have lots so it's hard to pinpoint one in particular. Qualifying as a registered general nurse, delivering my first baby and obtaining nursing positions in prestigious hospitals overseas are all extremely proud moments for me. Also, my first charge nurse post on a neonatal intensive care unit. The list goes on.

What has surprised you about your career so far?

The fact that I became a registered midwife, which was not something I ever considered doing but was the only way, at the time, that I was advised I would get a promotion in neonatal nursing.

What would you say to someone considering a career in nursing?

I would say go for it. There are so many options available to you, and opportunities to work in some amazing hospitals and with great teams. You will never, ever be bored if you choose nursing as a career and you never stop learning. It's a tough job with some lows but the highs you get far outweigh the bad days.

It's an incredibly rewarding career and goes by in the blink of an eye. You will meet some wonderful people as colleagues and also patients you care for, some who will leave an everlasting impression on you.

I have never regretted choosing a career in nursing.

Colourful question marks drawn by a child

Thank you to the children and young people who have so brilliantly illustrated our blog pages.

What do you do?

We love highlighting our staff and their amazing career journeys.

Read other pieces in this series:

  • What do you do, Claudia and Hope? Find out how Claudia and Hope are improving care for people with endometriosis, and why it's so important to raise awareness of the condition.
  • What do you do, Emily? Emily explains how she supports and advocates for children and young people who need to stay in hospital for prolonged periods of time.
  • What do you do, Bren? As part of the 'pioneering team' in our children's day surgery unit, Bren shares what he loves about the unit, from the outer space artwork to the superb training opportunities.

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