Vivienne Hudson, Ward sister


Vivienne staff spotlight headerWith over 11,000 people working in our hospitals we know there are a lot of interesting stories to be shared. We caught up with Vivienne who shared her inspiring story about how she got into nursing.

Age 56

Lives in Southampton

And… after qualifying at the age of 47, Vivienne’s story is a true inspiration for anyone who wants to get into nursing and the NHS.

So Vivienne tell us a little bit more about how you wanted to become a nurse?

I had always wanted to become a nurse after visiting my Nan in hospital. It really sparked a lifelong passion. However after leaving school, I met my first husband and became a mum to two children. As my husband worked during the day, it wasn’t really practical to follow a career in the health service so I had to stay at home to help look after the children.

What changed that meant you could follow your passion for nursing?

Once my children were older, and I remarried, it was then that I sat down with my husband, Graham, who was very supportive and wanted a change in career as well. We came to the conclusion that we were going to follow our ambitions and really go for it.

Having left school 25 years before I knew I wanted to become a nurse, I needed to strengthen my skills so I could apply for the advanced diploma in nursing. I went to night school for two nights a week where I studied for my maths and English GCSE as well as learning biology, sociology, English literature and psychology. After working for 18 months as a housekeeper, I then applied for a healthcare assistant role which meant I gained more experience with caring for patients.

That must have been really tiring having to keep up a full time job and go back to school and study?

It was but I knew that becoming a nurse was something I was really passionate about. After I finished night school in 2006 I applied to university to study for my advanced diploma. I was successful and qualified as a registered nurse in 2010 after taking a short break in between to look after my mum who was poorly and needed some help.

It takes some determination to go back to school, work, look after a family and still manage to achieve what you have. What do you think helped you to do this?

I think being that bit more experienced in life - learning those essential life skills before qualifying really helped me. Although I was looking after my children, I still went out and got a job in the evenings. Graham was very supportive and encouraging through all of this.

Tell us a little bit more about what jobs you had?

Oh there were so many! I worked as a barmaid, a van driver and a fork lift driver in a warehouse! I was the only female in the team so you had to be tough and not let anyone push you around.

From fork lift driver to nurse, tell us what you love about your job now?

It has to be the people. I get to work with a great team and care for some lovely patients, it is all about building those relationships and seeing the difference you can make to people’s lives. It can be tough at times, especially working on a ward with dementia patients but the nicer parts far outweigh the more challenging times.

What do you do in your spare time?

My husband and I have just bought a 1970s sailing yacht and have started taking sailing lessons. I also have an allotment where I get to grow all my own vegetables for the Sunday roast – I love it!

We also have a German Shepherd rescue dog named Ralfie so he takes up a lot of our time too.

What would you say to someone who was thinking of starting a career in nursing and at UHS?

If you really want something in life go for it and be prepared to put in the hard work - it will be worth it. There are lots of opportunities and pathways to develop a rewarding career at UHS, no matter what your interests are.

If I can inspire at least one person from my journey to start their career in nursing, that would make me feel really proud.