Carolyn Walsh – NNU Ward Sister 

Carolyn first came to the Neonatal Unit (NNU) at UCLH over 20 years ago. Her nursing career had been varied, initially starting as a neurosurgical nurse before progressing to an adult ITU nurse.

"There is a misconception that it is difficult to move into neonatal nursing from an adult nursing background. I completed the neonatal training course at UCLH and before I knew it I was caring for babies on the unit."

Something left Carolyn unfulfilled though. “I felt that something was missing. I saw an advert for a nursing role on NNU and thought it could be for me. The role would give me a chance to care for not just a new-born baby, but for a whole family and I hoped this would give me the fulfilment I was looking for”.

Carolyn is quick to point out that the transition to becoming a neonatal nurse was a challenging, but successful move, “There is a misconception that it is difficult to move into neonatal nursing from an adult nursing background. I completed the neonatal training course at UCLH, which still runs to this day, and before I knew it I was caring for babies on the unit. I am proof that the move can be made successfully, although I would say background in critical care is helpful”.

"Neonatal care is an ever evolving field and we’re always discovering new ways of working. You never feel like you are stuck in a rut!"

As a ward sister on NNU, Carolyn works within a diverse multidisciplinary team (MDT) of doctors, nurses and specialists in related areas such as physiotherapy, feeding, and developmental care. She explains, “There is so much expertise in the team and as a nurse you have many options. You may wish to get involved with the pioneering research work that takes place or you may wish to undertake specialist training and become an advanced neonatal nurse practitioner (ANNP). We are a large unit and have over 120 nurses. Many of them have been on the unit a long time which shows what a great place it is to work. We have a strong senior team for younger nurses to learn from”.

Carolyn is currently enjoying a rotational post to support the matron and get a taste of higher level management, she says, “It’s great to be able to explore a different side of the job, even after all these years. I’m attending Trust wide meetings and the level of responsibility is much greater. It is challenging, but very rewarding and I am learning so much. Neonatal care is an ever evolving field and we’re always discovering new ways of working. You never feel like you are stuck in a rut!”