Q&A with Sheila

From HR Manager to Healthcare Assistant - hear all about Sheila’s career journey so far and why joining University Hospital Southampton has given her a new lease of life.

Hi Sheila! Can you tell us a bit about your role as a Healthcare Assistant (HCA) at University Hospital Southampton (UHS)?

I've been working at UHS since May, 2020. I joined the ultrasound department right in the middle of the pandemic and had a really nice experience there - supporting patients who were coming in for ultrasounds. I'm now in the radiology day unit where I help with pre- and post-patient procedures. The staff here have been wonderful because they’ve given me the opportunity to learn and grow. 

What were you doing before you joined UHS as a HCA?

I spent over 20 years working in the HR industry as a HR manager and I became quite disillusioned. I just felt I wanted to do something with true purpose; something that really aligned with my values, where I could help people more. Coronavirus made me totally reassess my values, reassess what I wanted out of life, and reassess what my purpose was. Somebody suggested I should apply to work at UHS. I was quite scared about doing it, but I had an interview within a week and a job offer within 24 hours. It was the best decision I have ever, ever made.

How did it feel starting a new career in a completely alien environment?

Initially I was thinking, "I can't understand why anybody recruited me without any experience." But I'm totally open and just said to my colleagues, "Look, bear with me. I'm learning." Everybody's been wonderful. As long as you’re authentic and sincere, and you want to develop, people are very receptive. I think they want people to ask questions and be curious and inquisitive.

What was the training process like?

I had a really comprehensive induction and feel I've been given excellent training. The job description and how the role was portrayed was very clear, so I actually felt that I really knew what I was getting into in terms of my role. There were quite a lot of practical training aspects and for me, what was wonderful, was having the time to complete my Care Certificate. 

What are the development opportunities like at UHS and what does the future hold for you here?

During the short time I've been here, I've had so much encouragement to go on and do further study and have basically put my hand up for every opportunity going. UHS has been extremely receptive to that and I feel that my colleagues really want to get the best out of me. I'm hoping to get on the Nursing Associate apprenticeship, so I'll be in a really good position to develop my career within UHS. I'll be 55 in March but I've actually got a new lease of life now. I feel that, for the remainder of my working life, I want to be working at this hospital, doing this role.

What are your three favourite things about being a HCA at UHS?

Firstly, I get to work with a wonderful team who actually care about my development. Secondly, it’s having wonderful patient interactions, every day. And lastly, it’s that I’m empowered to grow and develop to be the best I can be.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about applying for a HCA role at UHS?

If you have a passion for people and want to be part of a wonderful team, go for it. Starting at HCA level will make you a wonderful nurse in the future. You will be supported here and you'll work for a wonderful team that cares about you and your development.

Whether you’re an experienced HCA or just starting out, search our current opportunities now to find the perfect role for you.