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Case Study: Kirsty Hickinbottom

Kirsty Hinckinbottom (Trainee Nursing Associate)


Trainee Nursing Associate, Kirsty gives an honest and open account of what it is like to take part in a brand new role within the NHS.

"My name is Kirsty Hickinbottom.  At 16 I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career and it took time for me to find where I belonged. Unfortunately, both my nan and grandad became ill and I was there to help care for them. But that's when my future was decided for me. The love and passion I felt in caring for others couldn’t be ignored I knew what I wanted to do.

"I decided to apply for healthcare assistant roles within the NHS with the hope that one day secondments for nurse training would become available as I would not be able to support my family without a wage. Until this happened, I was happy working as a healthcare assistant and enjoyed being part of the care team. I knew that I was working towards my end goal even it took me a long time.

"So, I worked as a health care support worker within mental health services then transferred into a Children's ward in an acute teaching trust as a Healthcare Assistant.

"And I fell in love! I've worked in Children's for nearly three years now and I cannot imagine working anywhere else.

"I started my journey as a trainee Nursing Associate in February 2017. I now have a better understanding what it means to be a nurse. It's about knowing your patient and what is important to them. Allowing them to make decisions, building a rapport and trust, not only with the patient but their families too and having an understanding of how they live their lives to support patient-centred care.

"As the course has progressed, I’m becoming more confident with new skills especially mastering the new communication techniques we have been taught and demonstrating the values and standards expected of a healthcare professional.

"There are many challenges that come with being a new member of the nursing family. These of course are to be expected but I have found that people find change hard to come to terms with and people do not like the unknown. They want facts, figures and examples of how things work and why it does what it does - so being a part of a new role within an institution like the NHS is hard.

"At the beginning, I felt like everyone was bombarding me with questions not just about the role but as if they were personally questioning me and my abilities like it was something I did not deserve or had not worked hard enough for!

"I hope that bringing the trainee Nursing Associate role into different healthcare settings will support registered nurses who will be confident in our abilities to care for our patients under their supervision and guidance.

"I know that for me and some of my healthcare assistant colleagues, this role provides a goal; a qualification we can work towards and help to progress our career or do the nurse training; particularly for those working in children’s services as opportunities to learn new clinical skills can be limited.  

"The last seven months have been hard work and I have no doubt that the next 14 will be even harder! Although I am working full time, I am getting better at balancing my studying and managing my personal life - taking exams, writing assignments, and reflecting on my practice - are all new skills that I am developing as I go along.

"One of the biggest challenges we have all faced as trainees is seeing the negative press about our role. People's opinions of how we will be ‘unqualified’ to become a Nursing Associate or how we will be a ‘danger to the patient and the NHS’ are negative and hurtful comments. I used to get upset and angry but now I go to work every day knowing that I and my fellow trainees will prove them wrong! We can make a difference and we have been taught our new skills by the best nurses there are!

"My mentors, colleagues, supervisors and teachers support and teach me the ‘gold standard’ of nursing care and I will not let them, my patients or the NHS down."