Emily in Aberdeen

Emily Daniels graduated from Santa Maria in 2014 and now is living and working in Aberdeen in Scotland. We asked her to share her story since leaving the College. She also shares some awesome self care tips.

Tell us about your journey from leaving school to where you are today?

I graduated from Santa Maria in 2014. I went straight into uni and studied nursing for three years. I then took a gap year and worked at a summer camp in the USA. I then worked as a swimming teacher for a year while looking for work as a nurse. I got a job in Scotland in 2020 and moved there without knowing anything about the UK or anyone who lived there! And in the middle of the pandemic as well.

I currently work at a level 1 Trauma Centre in the north of Scotland. I worked in orthopaedic trauma for over a year and then transferred to the emergency department, where I have been for the last ten months. It was definitely a challenge moving to another country not knowing anyone, but I can say it was one of the best decisions I ever made! I’ve enjoyed the challenge of travel in restrictive times and made the most of it when those rules relaxed, travelling all over the UK and to Europe.

Being a trauma nurse must have lots of challenges. How do you cope with that? 

I am a big believer in self-care, doing things that help ground you and help you to relax and unwind. I am a big writer, so I journal a lot to help process some of the things I’ve been involved with, and the team I work with is phenomenal. We debrief at the end of cases and constantly check in with each other during a shift. We work long hours with high volumes of patients, so learning to work with your team and checking in with each other goes a long way. I became a peer supporter, organised by the We Care team and created in the early days of the pandemic. 

One of the things I’ve come across has been a five senses technique which is useful to use, even at work. 

5 things you can see
4 things you can hear
3 things you can touch
2 things you can smell, and 
1 thing you can taste. 

It’s a really good grounding technique. I also have my own mini-routine when I go home at the end of the day.  

1 thing for me right now (usually a big drink of water)
1 thing for future me (washing dishes is a big one!)
1 thing for my body (yoga to unwind), and 
1 thing for my soul (normally getting lost in a book).

How have you found nursing through the pandemic?

It has been a challenge from the get-go. Learning a whole new healthcare system and the different styles of nursing in the United Kingdom vs Australia was an eye opener. Learning to care for people’s loved ones when they cannot see them was a large part of my job. 

Nursing with all your PPE gear and incredibly sick people has been a large learning curve. You have to be careful with your masks and infection control procedures. The hardest challenge has been ensuring you provide the best care for that person and establish a connection with them when all they can see is a pair of eyes behind a mask, visor, gloves and gown.

What have been the highlights of your nursing career so far?

The opportunity to meet so many different people I wouldn’t have had the pleasure to meet if I hadn’t taken that risk to come here. I have met so many people who have become my support network and with who I have experienced numerous adventures. Some of my closest friends have been people who also lived in Perth, who I would never have met otherwise. Talk about a small world! Being able to talk about Australia and all the things I’ve been involved with and seen, and helping share knowledge with my team over the years, has been amazing. Getting my dream job in A & E is definitely top of the list.

What’s it like living and working in another country?

I’ve had the opportunity to live in a few countries, so I had a great background to start. One of the hardest parts is the sun setting at 4.00 pm in the middle of winter, but the snow helps balance it a bit more. Working shift work was a challenge at the beginning, but a coffee, or three, always helps! 

The best parts include seeing the countryside, the proximity to Europe, the snow again, and the people who have introduced me to everything from slang to food (I’m not a fan of haggis), to secret waterfalls under a bridge. The best thing about summer here at the moment is the sun setting at 11.00 pm and all the wildflowers. It’s simply stunning!

Do you think working as a nurse in another country has given you more opportunities and experience? 

I think there is a mix. I’ve had the opportunity to work in a hotspot in the heat of a pandemic, in critical trauma and with Covid cases, as well as help mentor students at the beginning of their nursing journey, which has been an absolute joy. 

I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside long rehabilitation cases involving a large spectrum of healthcare roles and lots of patience. 

I’ve had the opportunity to work in the emergency department, which is not easy to achieve as a graduate in Australia. I’ve found it difficult to compare my experience in Australia, as I hadn’t had the opportunity to work as a registered nurse there before moving overseas. I think there are advantages and disadvantages to both healthcare systems. It’s a manner of navigating it as you go and looking for chances to expand your knowledge and skills where you can.

What advice would you have for anyone wanting to become a nurse?

If you have the chance to and don’t mind the work, go for it. It’s hard work but rewarding. A gap year and some life experiences have helped my interactions with people. I would recommend working in a similar field during your training, as I found my experiences working in aged care and working with children came in handy. 

I’m always up for a chat about my job because I am passionate about it and the places it can take you. My career didn’t take the path I initially thought, which was very frustrating, but my round-a-bout way of breaking into nursing has been better than I ever imagined.

Do you have any future plans you’d like to share with us?

I’m in the process of applying for some mission work in Africa for next year and going back to university in September for some further study, so fingers crossed! Aside from that, who knows? I’m definitely open to looking for more opportunities to travel, maybe even another move? I’m ready for whatever life throws my way. 

We wish you all the best with your future endeavours Emily and can’t wait to see what’s next for you. 

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