[L]andlady at the local pub to Clinical Support Worker at the local hospital is not one of the most traditional routes into the NHS, but it’s a path Ricci Taylor at Westmorland General Hospital took having worked at the heart of the local community for more than twenty years.
The self-confessed ‘patient champion’ is now looking to progress to a nursing career and believes the experiences behind the bar at Kendal’s Heron Pub have put her in good stead.
“I had quite a lot of transferable skills. You have got to be able to cope with difficult situations and obviously working in pubs there was lots of confrontational situations and I was pretty good at piping it down. I am the patients champion, I really fight for patients, I really like them to have a positive experience, I don’t like it if they are not happy.”
The role of a Clinical Support Worker can be a challenging and varied role, with up to 12 twelve different disciples to focus on, from diabetes, orthopaedic, gynaecology, ear nose and throat, even taking blood, and it’s this variety which is one of the key reasons that Ricci loves her job.
“It’s magic,” Ricci says. “It changes all the time. It is never ever boring; it is very rare that you will be in the same clinic all day, so you are often doing something different in the afternoon to what you do in the morning. I love people, even though we don’t see them for very long you do get an insight into their life.
“You get some patients who rarely see anybody and this can be their lifeline, it is nice to make a difference to that person.”
Ricci first got a taste for the medical world thanks to a friend’s pregnancy, and now three-and-a-half years in to her career with UHMBT, she is ready to take the next step by studying to be a nurse.
“It started six years ago. My best friend got pregnant and asked me to be her birthing partner. She had to have a planned caesarean, but I was with her all through her journey.
“I was absolutely fascinated in the theatre, and the staff were aware of this so they let me watch the procedure, I even got to cut the cord!” Ricci says of the moments which sparked her interest in the medical profession.
Ricci’s work in the local community hasn’t just been restricted to being the ‘patient champion’ at WGH or pulling pints at the local pub, she’s also been a teaching assistant at a local school. So was she worried about bumping into some of her regulars and former pupils? “It worried me to start with,” she says. “We always ask if they are happy for us to be present.
“I have never had anybody say that they don’t want me to be there and I have actually had feedback on a couple of occasions where the patient has said that knowing me has actually helped the situation. I’ve been able to talk to them about things I know about them and been able to put them at ease and take their mind off what is actually happening.”
“I absolutely love this job, to the point that I’ve got a University place accepted with the University of Cumbria and in September I am going to start studying Children’s Nursing.”