International Nurses Day 2021

This year we would love to celebrate your stories and share in your small celebrations on the wards and departments, as well as reflect on the past year.

Taking place today

Head over to Twitter and our #1BigTeam Facebook group to share your photos (social distanced) of celebration with your wards and departments.

Here are just a few of your stories:

Holly Chambers PMRAFNS

“For me, #IND2021 is about remembering our professions history and what adversities such as conflict and a pandemic have to teach us. This year’s focus is on innovation and the shape of healthcare in the future and what is innovation without curiosity? Curiosity is the key to learning, it’s about asking what we can learn from experiences, both good and bad. In the end, as a critical care clinical educator, that is all I ask of my learners, to stay curious.

“I was so proud to be selected to represent the PMRAFNS at the 2020 Festival of Remembrance which was dedicated to the WHO Year of the Nurse. To stand with my nursing colleagues from the Army, Royal Navy and the NHS, not only remembering those we have lost in conflict but also those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the COVID-19 pandemic, was an honour and privilege. I have been a registered nurse for 16 years, 11 years of which in critical care, and I have never felt so proud of my profession and the care that we provide in the face of such adversity.”

Andy Everett, Alcohol Liaison Nurse:

“I strongly believe in the power of compassion and kindness.”

What do you do?
What I see again and again is the damage alcohol can cause. My role is multi-facetted, however fundamentally I really do believe in the possibility of change, I am aware that this is not easy but never the less it is always possible.

What made you go into nursing?
I had friends who were studying nursing and I got inspired, I loved their motivation to do something that involved giving rather than taking. I also wanted to do something that made me feel good about myself, I really did get the bug to help and care for others.

What’s been a highlight of your career?
As an agency nurse I was back in my home town of Plymouth in 2009 and asked if I would like to do a shift at Broadreach, a residential rehabilitation centre.  I loved it. I was inspired, witnessing real change. I trained as a nurse/counsellor and developed a better understanding of the helper’s role. The subject of addiction and the role of helper continue to fascinate and I have with a strong desire to improve in my abilities. More than 10 years later and I am still as enthusiastic about the subject of behavioural change. I joined UHP as Alcohol Liaison Nurse in June 2020.

What drives you?
I have always been interested in communication and have seen in many ways the importance and power nurses have when caring for people, I strongly believe in the power of compassion and kindness.

Muhammad Asadullah, Band 5 Moorgate Ward

What made you go into nursing?
To care for the community and help the sick. 

What’s the best memory in your career?
Whilst working in Dubai as a junior nurse, I received a phone call to see the Matron, they promoted me to Nurse in Charge. When I left I received a certificate of appreciation from the Director of the hospital. I felt so proud. 

What do you love about working in Derriford?
Teamwork, professionalism and approachable ward manager, Drs and clinical educator. 

What makes nurses so special?
Sometimes the patients can be confused or aggressive and challenging. Nurses still maintain high standards and ensure they deliver good care. 

What’s the main thing you’ve learned this past year?
Being  an ICU nurse, I had never looked after a group of patients with complex needs. I have improved my workload management and communication with relatives and patients.

Alex Evers, Apprentice Nurse Moorgate Ward

What made you go into nursing? To further my career and help people. 

What’s the best memory in your career? The rewards of seeing people recover

What do you love about working in Derriford? The teamwork, everyone works together. 

What makes nurses so special? Empathy. 

What’s the main thing you’ve learned this past year? Wash your hands!

Sian Dennison, Macmillan Lead Cancer Nurse at Derriford, on both nursing and being a cancer patient herself this past year.

“It has been an incredibly tough year for nurses and all frontline colleagues. The pandemic brought many challenges, one of the toughest being having to move face to face consultations to phone or video calls with patients in their own homes. Whilst a positive move for many with more routine follow ups, it has been hard when talking to newly diagnosed patients. Harder for patients of course but also for nurses because it’s not as easy to build that special patient/nurse relationship in the same way as we can in person.

“When our patients could come to their appointments in person, they were not able to bring their loved ones with them, increasing their stress and anxiety levels. As Macmillan nurses we had to fill that role as much as possible, to ensure patients and their families still felt supported.”

“There have been some positives, the comradery and team spirit has been wonderful, pulling together, not only within cancer care services, but working with colleagues across the hospital to provide support to Covid wards. As Macmillan nurses we were able to use our communications skills to support families whose loved ones are admitted to critical care with Covid.”

Sian was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in July 2019 and shares her perspective having experienced the pandemic as both a nurse and a cancer patient.

“Due to my treatment for cancer I have had to shield throughout the pandemic. Working as a Macmillan Lead Cancer Nurse from home has been a challenge but the support from my team and ability to meet online remotely and keep in contact with my colleagues has made life bearable. I’m proud that we have continued to work as one team regardless of where we are based and I am very grateful to my team for their continued support and care.

“Speaking as a patient myself, the nursing team have been incredible, nothing has been too much trouble despite their busy workload.”  

Teenage Cancer Trust Specialist Nurse based at University Hospitals Plymouth

Hannah Heayn, was redeployed to the palliative care team in the coronavirus ward. During the height of the pandemic, family members weren’t allowed to visit their loved ones in hospitals and staff were so busy that facilitating regular update calls with families was challenging. Hannah helped organise a ‘covid comms’ team of nurses, who gave daily updates to a designated family member or loved one, facilitated video calls and organised last-days-of-life visits.

Hannah said, “We had to have some really complex and difficult conversations with family members about their loved ones. As a nurse who is used to speaking to teenagers and young adults about cancer diagnosis, treatment, aftercare, and death I felt well equipped to facilitate this. Though it was really hard, I felt so privileged that I was in a position to support people through such difficult times. This year has been incredibly challenging, but it has made me so proud to do what I do.”

Megan Muirhead and Lydia Nowak are running 500 miles for St Lukes Hospice

Megan and Lydia are full-time serving military nurses working within across Derriford hospital and other parts of the UK, but Scotland is home for them. It’s been nearly a year since Megan and Lydia have been able to return home to Scotland to visit their friends and families.

Over Christmas, they found themselves spending the holiday season 500 miles from home but creating a new friendship along the way. They decided to feel a little closer to home, they would run the 500 miles, setting themselves the challenge to complete the distance within three months. The challenge started on April 1st and their goal is to complete the 500 miles by June 30th.

The pair said: “We aren’t doing all this for the blisters and the joint ache – we’ve decided between us of a very deserving charity based in Plymouth, who have provided incredible support not only during the pandemic but throughout the years and I’m sure many of you are familiar with – St Lukes Hospice.”

Last year St Lukes cared for over 1,764 people in the local community living with a life-limiting illness. This involves care from Doctors, Nurses, Social workers and Occupational Therapists to patients and family members. This care can take place at Derriford Hospital or out in the community, so patients can be in the comfort of their own home.

With over £900 raised so far, they’re nearly halfway to reaching their £2,000 target. You can follow Megan and Lydia and support their fundraising journey by visiting their Go Fund Me page here:

Coming up

Join us for a very special International Nurses Day themed Schwartz Round on 26 May 2021 at 13:00.

If you would like to share your story at the round, please get in touch with Dr Julia Bird, Clinical Psychologist, email:

Find out more on StaffNET

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