A nurse described as a rising star by her managers has explained why she turned her back on the money and glamour associated with the legal profession to work in the care sector.
Milton Keynes nurse Victoria Bryant left college at 18 to work for a top London criminal law firm as a PA to one of the company’s directors. He was so impressed with her ability he offered to sponsor Victoria through a law practice course, which would mean she could go on to qualify to practise as a solicitor.
Although Victoria, who now works for specialist neurological care provider PJ Care, was attracted to the excitement of working in the law, she was uncertain it was the right path for her.
Instead she went on trip to Ghana to work as a volunteer in an orphanage. She thought it might help her decide.
And after spending two months looking after children there she was convinced her future lay in the care profession.
“I wasn’t sure working as a lawyer was for me. I wasn’t sure if I was just attracted to the money and glamour,” says Victoria.
“I knew after spending some time at the orphanage that what I really wanted to do was nursing. I came back from Ghana and enrolled on a three-year nursing course at Kingston University.”
Victoria qualified as a registered nurse in February 2012, and spent the first 18 months of her working life at a complex care unit in Surrey.
She worked in intensive care, looked after people with acquired brain injuries and spinal injuries, and also spent some time working with palliative care patients.
She joined PJ Care in Milton Keynes at its Brunel Unit at Mallard House a year ago.
After just six months with PJ Care, which provides care, treatment and rehabilitation for people with a range of conditions, including motor neurone disease, young onset dementia and Huntington’s disease, Victoria won the company’s own internal Rising Star Award.
Now she has also been nominated for a Rising Star prize in the prestigious Nursing Times Awards.
Victoria said: “That came as a real surprise. I’ve been asked by the organisers to put together a presentation on my career and my work with PJ Care, and why I think I deserve to win the award.”
In the meantime, she has another big day to look forward to and prepare for– she is getting married to her fiancé Stuart at the end of August.
Victoria said: “I have loved my time at PJ Care. Everyone is very supportive of the staff and totally dedicated to the welfare of the residents.
“The work is very challenging and varied – no day is ever the same as the last. Also we have the chance to really get to know the residents – and for their relatives and loved ones – and spent time caring for them.
“The company motto is ‘compassion, commitment and care’, and everyone really does stand by that.”
PJ Care chief executive officer Johann van Zyl was full of praise for Victoria. He said: “The legal profession’s loss is certainly nursing’s gain.
“Victoria is an outstanding nurse. She’s bright, cheerful and confident, and consistently provides the highest quality of care. She’s also a great team player, motivated and forward-thinking.
“She’s currently working on a project to improve the way paperwork is done at Mallard House so that the nurses and carers can spend more time with residents.”
And Victoria isn’t the only PJ Care nurse in line for a Nursing Times prize.
Unit manager Amy Iddon has been nominated in the Nurse Leader of the Year category.
A registered nurse and a mother-of-two Amy Iddon is unit manager at the Bluebirds Neurological Care Centre in Milton Keynes.
Amy joined PJ Care in October 2012 as lead nurse, and has made a big impact during her time with the company.
Johann van Zyl said: “Amy is an outstanding nurse and leader. She always goes the extra mile in the job, and has a remarkable capacity to step up to any challenge that comes her way.”
Both nurses have to make a presentation at a judging day in September.
All of the finalists will find out if they have won at the Nursing Times Awards 2014 on Wednesday, October 29, at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London.