5 August 2020

Carla Nunes.jpgCaring for her nan, who has dementia, gave Carla Nunes her first inkling that nursing might be the profession for her.

This saw her earning pocket money for firstly helping with cleaning, then shopping and then to personal care.

This made her think she could nurse as a career, though was also debating whether teaching might be her calling.

After doing her A-levels, she felt she needed more experience so underwent training as a health care assistant, while also working in a nursing home, delaying her entry to university by a year.

This then really proved how much she loved looking after someone and confirmed she definitely wanted to go into nursing.

That was more than 10 years ago but it was a valuable experience and now her career and personal life has come almost full circle.

Brought up in Irthlingborough, Northamptonshire, the now Rapid Response Nurse Practitioner for Home 1st in Milton Keynes, took her degree in Nursing at Northampton University before heading to London.

Here she worked at St Thomas’ Hospital and King’s College Hospital, where she worked in acute medicine and in A&E, where her face was seen in the documentary series 24 Hours in A&E, worked in Camden for CNWL as a COPD Nurse, before being offered her current role while she was on maternity leave.

The role is ideal for her as it combines the rapidity and variety that you get on an A&E ward combined with the autonomy she had as a COPD Nurse in Camden.

“I like the variety of the role that combines clinical expertise with the ability to build a rapport. You feel responsible going into someone’s home and who might have several things wrong with them so I might have to feel their chests or tummies, for instance, and then give them a diagnosis,” she said. 

“Typically the patients I see are older and have lots of different medical needs and lots of co-morbidities so when I see a new patient I do a full top to toe assessment so they feel they’ve had a good M.O.T.”

To complete the circle she’s studying again at Northampton University but this time as an Advanced Clinical Practitioner.

She says of her career to date: “My career stemmed from enjoying the general medical wards and watching the critical care nurses who came and helped with the unwell patients without help from the doctors.

“They assessed patients like a doctor but nursed them also. I wanted to learn those skills that helped in stopping people from getting more unwell – so I learnt about the more critically unwell patients by doing courses and doing the rotation on A&E.

“I enjoyed A&E as it was about trying to figure out what was happening, making them comfortable and stopping them from getting more unwell.

“For my current role my experience allows me to recognise those who might be unwell and how I can try and stop that or helps me try to figure out what could be wrong.

“With my COPD hat on, I use the skills I learnt in Camden here to help people by educating them on their disease to help them with their symptoms or prevent further episodes of acute ill health.”

She adds: “If you do want to become a nurse, work in a care home, become a healthcare assistant so you get an insight into what it’s like in this profession.”