An ITU nurse perspective...

Intensive Care

Leading Naval Nurse Alice Hopkin has recently been offered a place on her specialist nursing course for Intensive Care. Here, Alice offers her experiences to date since joining the QARNNS.

I joined the Royal Navy as a newly qualified direct entrant nurse in March 2014 having qualified from Cardiff University. My first draft was to DMG (S) in Portsmouth were I was part of rotation group 22. As part of the rotation programme; I rotated to respiratory medicine and colo-rectal surgery in order to complete my level two core competencies and get a good foundation as a newly qualified nurse. As part of the rotation at DMG (S), all nurses rotated to a specialist placement. As a student nurse I had already completed a placement in the Emergency Department and also Operating Theatres. I therefore requested a placement in Intensive Care as it was something completely new.


Within the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, all nurses new to the unit complete four weeks supernumerary time in addition to the Unit's competency package before being counted in the numbers and working on your own under supervision. These four weeks were crucial to learning the basics of caring for a patient within ICU. The unit were extremely supportive as they often have new starters and I was allocated two mentors to work with. Over the four weeks supernumerary time, competencies needed to be completed, which included being able to assemble a ventilator, admit a patient, set up a transducer and many more. I felt very supported through my four weeks on the unit and having a set programme and competency package certainly helped. In addition the education team on the unit, included all new military nurses into their new starter study days. These days were extremely beneficial as they included airway management, the deteriorating patient and scenarios with the SIM man.


Working on the unit and being within the numbers, I was supported by both the unit and the qualified military ITU nurses. In addition to the unit study days, we had military ITU team days which included working on the National Competency Framework for Critical Care Nurses (NCF). The NCF prepares ITU nurses for Operational deployments and being able to discuss this on team days was very beneficial, especially as teaching was done by ITU qualified nurses, which was a great motivation to become a specialist ITU nurse. Furthermore as an ITU team we also attended several British Association for Critical Care Nurses (BACCN) study events. These were very valuable, to listen to different specialist nurses in topics such as end of life care, pain and advance nurse practitioners within ITU.


I thoroughly enjoy the everyday challenge that ITU brings to me as a nurse. Working within ITU allows me to make more clinical decisions regarding my patients care and I thoroughly feel part of the MDT. Furthermore as the patient to nurse ratio is often one to one, I feel that I can give my full efforts to the care of that patient and their family. Due to the complex nature of the patients within ITU; new research within the ITU setting is often being undertaken and it is regarding to feel part of this process. Becoming a specialist nurse was an aspiration of mine and my experience within ITU, heightened my desire to specialise within this area of nursing. With the support of all of the ITU specialist nurses at DMG (S) I completed the NCF at level one within eight months. I have recently applied and successfully passed Post Registration Selection Board and will soon begin the Acute Clinical Practice (Intensive Care) GradCert at Brighton University.