Inspired Options are actively seeking UK Nurses with existing Australian Nursing Board registration

Nursing Website Developer

Sunday, 19 November 2017

7 Day Health Service
A great ideal
Can the Government make it work?

Nigel Freeney RMN, RGN

Introduction

Nigel has combined an interest in computers and web design with his nursing qualifications and more than 16 years clinical experience. After seven years using these skills for someone else he is now the successful director of one company providing information websites for nurses and another providing web design and development for the general business market.

Qualifications

Nursing - RMN, RGN, ENB100 (ITU Course), ENB998 (Teaching & Assessing)

Skills

Web and print advertising creation; dynamic database driven website creation; Search Engine Optimisation; and accessibile design.

Experience

2 years Acute Psychiatry, 3 years ITU, 2½ years in Bermuda (ITU/Psychiatry), 1 year agency, 6 months CCU
Website development - 7 years web development including 2 years online nurse bank management software development

My Career

I went into nursing as an HCA on nights in an old psychiatric hospital in 1981. I was told at my interview not to expect any job satisfaction but I loved the work. Of course this was before the Mental Health Act of 1983 and treatment of patients was often less than humane and I guess I fell foul of some of the old timers by insisting we treat patients with respect and consider waking them up to use the toilet in the night instead of simply getting them out of a wet bed on the morning round. But I persevered and gained a lot of enjoyment seeing the patients treated with more dignity and care.

I got a taste for the idea that I could make a difference and so applied for my training as an RMN. I enjoyed learning about different therapies and was fascinated enough to work with other nurses in our spare time to teach each other skills that we had developed – my strengths were relaxation techniques and reflexology.

We had a general placement as part of our course and I then realised that I didn’t want to specialise in a particular field of nursing, but gain more general experience. So I began to consider the opportunities that would open up to me with a dual qualification – primarily working abroad in the States or Australia.

In 1989, after gaining a couple of years experience in acute psychiatry, I was accepted to do my RGN conversion course. At this point I was still living in nurses’ accommodation so it wasn’t much of an upheaval – my belongings could all still fit into one car!

During my 18 month course I had a placement on ITU and knew that was where I wanted to work. Of course this seemed a bit of a contradiction as my psychiatric nursing background meant that I didn’t always fit into the obsessively regimented and obedient mould that was expected of me as a general nurse. No one expected me to enjoy the mechanically distanced care that seemed to be the way that ITU nursing was seen. But I loved ITU because I could see past all the mechanical stuff that the care that was being given was fantastic.

I also met Tracey, my wife, who was also training to be a nurse at the same hospital.

When I gained my RGN in 1991 there was a shortage of jobs but not anything like as acute as it is now. Even still, within 6 months I had managed to get a place on the Intensive Care Unit. During this time I got my first basic computer and realised that I could comfortably combine the humane and the mechanical. I remember as a child taking apart my brother’s toys to see how mine worked!

Whilst in ITU I managed to get a place on the ENB 100 ITU course which I completed in 1993. This led to me gaining an E-Grade and taking more responsibility for looking after more critically ill patients as well as assisting with development of less experienced nurses, students and doctors who came through the ward.

One of the doctors who came through on rotation told me about some locum work he had done in Bermuda and that nurses were always in demand. It sounded like a brilliant place to earn a lot of money in a short space of time in a location that sounded like paradise. After initial enquiries Tracey and I decided that it was worth taking the risk of leaving our current jobs to possibly set ourselves up for the future with money in the bank.

We rented out our house and made the expensive mistake of shipping a lot of our belongings over from the UK – it would have been far more sensible to have bought things over there. Expats usually stay for 3 years and then sell everything they have accumulated before they leave so there was a constant supply of cheap stuff to buy.

Although we enjoyed some aspects of life in Bermuda it was far from idyllic. The damp climate meant that Tracey suffered from vicious ear infections, even requiring surgery on two occasions. At its best was a day on the beach with hundreds of fit looking men and women playing volleyball on a horseshoe shaped beach with clear water that only went up to your waist after about 50 metres. In the distance was a boat race with schooners at full sail and the sun sparkling off the water. At its worst we had a force 2 hurricane that threatened to destroy part of the hospital and along with the general damage destroyed most of the beaches on the island.

During my time there I got interested in the Internet. Late one night Tracey came out to me while I was working on a website and said, “For goodness sake”, or words to that effect! “...come to bed – you’re never going to make any money with that!”

We eventually left after 2½ years not able to cope with the insular inward looking island mentality – financially a little better off than we started but not the position that we had hoped for when we had planned the trip.

When I came back to the UK I started working as an agency nurse. I enjoyed not having to be involved with the politics of the places that I worked. Plus I could work in a variety of placements that allowed me to use my full range of skills. Of course I got some rather disgruntled looks at nursing homes when I pointed out that I didn’t do ironing or cooking!

I went back to work full time on Coronary Care but realised that I didn’t care to be back in the main conveyor belt of hospital care where you have less and less time to give the patients the care they actually need.

I joined Thornbury Nursing Services and after working a couple of shifts went to a free study day they provided. During the lunch break I was chatting to one of their managers about work I was doing on websites. It just happened that at that time they were looking for someone to manage their websites they had more than 20 different ones leading nurses to their main site.

So this was the point that all my experience and qualifications came together and presented me with the opportunity to have a career as web development manager.

One of the highlights was developing an online nurse bank management system called “GO Nursing”. This was successfully installed at Dorchester County Hospital 5 years ago and is still allowing them to fill 85% of their bank nurse requests with their own staff instead of agency nurses. Of course it hasn’t seen the light of day elsewhere because of NHS Professionals which can’t compete for function and management information.

This year I was given the opportunity to go independent and set up a new company to run the nursing information websites I had managed for the last seven years. It was the best thing I could have done and the future looks very positive.

What would I have done differently?

I would have been a bit more street wise about life in Bermuda – other than that nothing.

What advice would you offer?

  • Try to give yourself more than one option in your career
  • Hobbies and interests can end up being an alternative or compliment to your career
  • Work smarter not harder

Who offered you the best career advice... and did you take it?

Can't remember who but "Work smarter not harder" - still trying to get this right!

What have you liked least about your working life?

Inconsistent managers who are nice one minute then cut you dead the next.

What have you enjoyed most?

The independence of working from home for the last 8 years and seeing our daughter grow up.

Was there any event which was pivotal in your career?

Going to the Thornbury Nursing study day and discussing my interest in building websites!

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