If you’re happy and you know it, sing out loud – that’s the philosophy of ophthalmology nurse specialist Stella Adegoke.
Whether it’s a song to relax people before a procedure, or to cheer her colleagues at the start of a shift, you’ll often hear her tunes drifting through the corridors of hospitals across east Kent.
But it could have been very different – Stella originally wanted to be an air hostess, after deciding she’d like a job with a uniform.
Thankfully for her patients, she decided a nurse’s uniform would suffice and completed her training in Nigeria, before moving to the UK in 1991.
She said: “I have always loved uniforms and I used to think of air hostesses because I liked how they dressed.
“But this job is the best one I have had in my whole career, and I love everything about it.
“I have my own clinics, my own caseload and I was the second nurse in the Trust to be trained to give injections into the eye – something that was historically only done by doctors.”
Singing isn’t the only way Stella helps her patients relax – she has also introduced stress balls to her clinics.
She said: “I love to sing – I sing about everything and anything.
“Sometimes patients are so stressed when they come for their injections, and people say it does help having the stress balls, and I sing ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ to them.
“It makes them smile and that is half the battle.”
Her colleagues also benefit from Stella’s singing, and it’s become a regular feature of ‘feel good Friday’ team meetings.
Staff bring in items for a hamper which is then raffled among the team, and the meeting ends with a song from Stella.
She said: “I’ve sung about my hair when I dyed it, about our new electronic patient record system – I really do sing about anything.
“I love that I am able to make them happy before a shift.”
Stella came to ophthalmology by accident, after applying for a job in the outpatients department at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate in 2003.
Managers asked if she would mind taking on the eye clinic, and she was fascinated by everything there was to learn so completed her specialist training and now encourages anyone looking for a new challenge to consider the department.
She said: “This really is the best job for me. It fits around family life, and the work-life balance for me is better than it was on the wards.
“It is a fantastic team and we all rally round to support each other.”
She is also passionate about supporting fellow black, Asian or ethnic minority (BAME) nurses to succeed and is part of the Trust’s BAME network.
Stella said: “When you first arrive in England from your country there are so many things you need to learn, and we are there to help support people.
“I think as a black nurse sometimes I have to work harder to prove myself, and there is always more that could be done.
“I am not one to keep quiet, and where I am today is the result of hard work and using my voice.
“Sometimes you do have to make more noise, and sometimes you can’t help but get upset if you experience racism.
“But I believe everyone should have the same opportunities to progress, no matter what their background. There are opportunities here and I’m always learning and always have more to learn.”