Simonne had been working in nursing for many years before reaching a juncture that many senior nurses face: “do I go into management or do I stay clinical?”
Simonne chose to stay clinical and became an Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (ANNP). She explains, “I really didn’t have much interest in management, but I wanted to continue advancing my career and learning skills. The ANNP role was the ideal career move”.
Simonne is originally from the UK but moved to Australia aged ten which is where she trained and spent the first chapters of her career in nursing. After a nine month stint of travelling in Africa she returned to the UK to move into midwifery, but instead found neonates. She recalls: “I had previously liked the challenge of working in intensive care and had always enjoyed working with babies. Working in neonatal intensive care became an easy choice for my next move”.
Simonne remained nursing with neonates in the UK until 2008 when she moved to Melbourne for five years working as Victoria’s first ANNP at the Royal Children’s Hospital. In 2012 her partner was offered a job in London so everything was packed up again and transported back to the UK. When she heard that a job had come up at UCLH in London, she knew that this was an opportunity for her. She explains: “The stars all aligned. I interviewed for the ANNP role at UCLH and got it.”
Simonne and the team of ANNPs is hands on at the very heart of the neonatal unit at UCLH, Simonne explains: “The ANNP role sits somewhere in between nursing and medicine. Apart from my nursing skills we prescribe drugs and perform practical interventions like intubation and inserting central lines”. The role is not without pressure though: “ANNPs are often the first person to attend on site following a delivery. It is often their job to stabilise the newborn and then bring them from the labour ward to the neonatal unit. We always have to be on hand, and quite often this might mean not getting lunch until three in the afternoon”.
Working on a busy level-3 neonatal intensive care unit carries with it extreme highs, but there are lows that must be endured too. Simonne explains: “It’s never easy breaking bad news to parents. It is tough, but we have the support of a great team including the clinical psychologist team. On the other hand it is wonderful to watch babies get better and go home with their families. Parents often come back completely different people when they return at a later date to visit the NNU!” As an ANNP, Simonne takes a supervisory role too, “We help the junior doctors train and contribute to their teaching by showing them techniques and procedures. It’s great to watch them learn and grow in confidence in their role.”
For Simonne, the future looks bright, “I plan to be at UCLH for easily at least another 5-10 years. There is a core group of nursing staff who have been here a long time and possess a vast amount of knowledge and experience. This not only means that there is an atmosphere of competence, but the stability ensures that confidence and morale amongst the team is always high.” Simonne is not done with learning new things though: “There is always more to learn and I feel like I learn something new every day! My job allows me to think outside the box and look at the care of our babies holistically. I wouldn’t swap my job for anything!”