Katie has no regrets about choosing nursing over serving the rich and famous

Katie Milner. Image shows Katie wearing a red nurses' uniform. She is pictured outside with trees behind her.

Published 12 May 2022

A nurse who turned her back on a career mixing with the famous says she doesn’t regret it for a second.

Katie Milner worked in John Lewis’s flagship Oxford Street store in London, serving celebrities including actress Kate Winslet, and former celebrity couple actor Jude Law and actress and fashion designer Sadie Frost.

But she felt unfulfilled so decided to follow her childhood dream and retrain as a nurse.

Katie, who is sharing her story to mark International Nurses Day on Thursday, 12 May, is now associate director of nursing at East Kent Hospitals, responsible for workforce and professional development.

She said: “I always loved helping people, and I got to a certain age and decided I wanted to do more than selling stuff.

“My mum reminded me that as a child I wanted to be a nurse or a teacher. At that time you could get a bursary to train a nurse, but not for teacher training, so that’s what I chose.

“My first experience of a hospital ward was my first day of placement – I’d never really been a patient either – but I absolutely loved it.

“After working in hospitals in London and in Somerset I moved into practice development and did my post-graduate certificate in education so now I’m a qualified teacher as well and I teach nurses.

“It’s never too late to change career and there are so many transferable skills from other jobs that will be really useful in nursing so I’d definitely encourage others to consider it as a career.”

Katie was initially attracted to retail because it meant she could start earning straight from school instead of going to university.

She completed a management training programme with John Lewis, working in a range of departments, from haberdashery and soft furnishings to school wear and electrical equipment.

As manager of the nursery furniture department she sold a car seat to Kate Winslet, and pictures of her husband carrying their new-born baby in it when they left hospital appeared in a host of national newspapers.

Katie said: “That’s my claim to fame – I sold them that car seat.

“But the best part of that job was always supporting the mums, advocating for them in front of often overbearing mums or mothers-in-law, and coaxing them to buying what they actually needed rather than the most expensive item in the shop.

“Nursing is so much more rewarding, and my leadership training and teamwork experience has stood me in good stead as a nurse.

“People from different backgrounds can bring so much to the table and I think it’s fantastic that there is such a big emphasis on values-based recruitment now. We need people who care about other people – we can teach everything else.

“There are so many different programmes to help people develop their careers, from our Ready to Care programme which recognises those transferable skills, to apprenticeships for people just starting out.

“I always say, if you come into the Trust as a healthcare support worker that is not just a job, it’s the first step of a whole new career and it’s up to you where it takes you.”