Sick teddy influences lifetime career in nursing
24th August 2011
When Vicky Mason retires next month (September) from Benenden Hospital in Kent, after thirty years, she will no doubt recall the highlights of her time in nursing with one of the biggest influences on her career - her teddy bear.
While Vicky, 63, now works as the Hospital’s Director of Quality and Risk, it is her time spent in hands-on nursing that she recalls most fondly.
“I actually began my nursing career at the age of three when my mum made me my first nurse’s uniform, but it was my teddy bear who was perhaps the greatest influence on my career.
“He was without doubt the sickest bear in Birmingham, where I grew up in the late 1940s and early 50s. He probably never had a day when he wasn’t ill and I nursed him on the sofa with a flannel on his head, a blanket wrapped round him and sometimes a bandage on his leg together with a lolly stick to keep his broken limb still.”
Vicky began her nursing training at the Poole Hospital in Dorset in 1966
“My challenge wasn’t only an educational one, there was real concern that I would spend more time crying than caring and that my emotions would prohibit me from succeeding in my chosen vocation.
I did my fair share of crying - how could you not when you have to deal with the death of a child from meningitis or you are caring for a dying cancer patient whose pain cannot be controlled?”
Vicky was chosen as a student to go to Intensive care at a time when ICUs were only just being developed. Following this she moved to Northwick Park Hospital near Harrow where she helped commission the 20-bed intensive and coronary care unit there. She got her Sister’s post shortly afterwards and never looked back.
It was in December 1980 that Vicky arrived at Benenden Hospital – along with several feet of snow – to take up the post of Ward Sister.
“I had the intention of staying perhaps for a couple of years and then moving back to the NHS but I have to say that Benenden Hospital got into my blood very quickly and I’ve ended up being here for thirty years!”
Vicky’s career developed from Ward Sister to medical unit manager to senior nurse manager and latterly, Director.
“My role expanded from simply clinical risk to the broader and more challenging aspect of clinical governance. I felt then that I could have more influence on safe and effective patient care than I had since moving into the management field.
Her nursing career in all its guises has been everything Vicky thought it would be and she says that without a second thought she would do it all over again.
“It’s a profession I’m very proud to have been associated with and caring for the sick and vulnerable patient (including sick Teddy Bears) is a great privilege..
Vicky will retire from Benenden Hospital on 2nd September.