Ruth Odikaesieme had no experience of working in intensive care when she moved to the UK and joined East Kent Hospitals – but that hasn’t held her back.
Nine months on, despite the challenges and obstacles created by the coronavirus pandemic, she is loving being part of the team at the William Harvey Hospital and has no hesitation in recommending others follow in her footsteps.
Ruth completed her original nursing training in Ghana, before working in Nigeria then moving to the UK.
She said: “It was very daunting when I first started but the support has been fantastic and there were no expectations or pressure.
“They knew I didn’t have any experience so they gave me time to learn to make sure I was safe and our patients were safe.
“I was always checked on and everyone asked how they could help – but I didn’t have to wait to be asked, I could go to my mentor or a senior nurse any time for help or advice.”
All new starters in intensive care spent time as a supernumerary – they are not allocated their own patients but instead shadow experienced staff to learn and develop their skills.
They have specific mentors who work with them on each shift and make sure the required ITU competencies are achieved.
Ruth said: “It is a very specialised unit and our patients’ lives are often really delicate when they come to us.
“But there is a lot of support to manage the patients and make sure they leave us not only alive but also well.
“It’s a great feeling when you leave a shift and your patient is sedated and ventilated, and you come back the next morning and they are awake.
“Of course, we do lose some people but you always know you have done all you can for them.”
Ruth lives on site at the hospital and despite the challenges of the English weather she has no plans to move on.
She said: “It’s such a nice team that I look forward to coming to work – there’s none of the dread you get with other jobs when you wake up and know you have a shift.
“I want to continue being an ITU nurse and to specialise in intensive care. There is no reason for me to leave and I’m optimistic I’ll be here for a long time to come.”