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College Nurse Returns to NHS Hospital Nursing

Before the government put out its call for the return of former NHS staff, Lisa Davidson from Gosport was already on track to make the move from College Nurse at St Vincent College to being reintegrated into the Intensive Care Nursing Team at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust.

After starting her career working in residential care for the elderly at 16, Lisa attended the University of Surrey in Guildford to become a Registered General Nurse and qualified in 1999. After spending an initial year post qualification in Bournemouth, she returned to her hometown of Portsmouth and spent six years working in the Critical Care Department (ITU) at Queen Alexandra Hospital, before becoming a Specialist Nurse in Organ Donation (SNOD).

In 2010, Lisa took time out to start a family, but returned to nursing two years later on a new career path, joining the Fareham & Gosport School Nursing Team and the completion of a Masters Degree in Community Public Health. She started her work at St Vincent College in the School of Personalised Learning in 2014 working within a team of four, supporting students with their specific individual health care needs whilst they access education.

‘I absolutely love my job and the team at the college, but once we were informed of its likely closure due to Coronavirus pandemic, I immediately called the Senior Sister I knew at Queen Alexandra Hospital to ask if she wanted me to volunteer for the COVID-19 response.’

Lisa, now 42, was immediately fast-tracked back into the service with the latest education and training in order to re-join the frontline.

‘It was a steep learning curve, but after four shifts, everything become familiar again and I was surrounded by people I knew from my nursing cohort who had also volunteered to come back. Soon, any nerves had been replaced by pride and the camaraderie between old friends.’

Lisa is now working directly with patients diagnosed with COVID-19 and providing them with one-to-one care. ‘We have drawstring bags for our uniforms and kitbags from the local community which is much appreciated, we shower onsite and everything from clothes and hairclips to my lunch box is washed thoroughly as soon as I get in.

My shift patterns mean my children, who are 7 and 10 years old and wonderful in their understanding, are already in bed, so they aren’t trying to hug me when I get in.’

Now back in her former routine, Lisa is perfectly comfortable with any potential risk. ‘I have worked with patients with HIV, hepatitis and infectious diseases before, so this is not a particularly new scenario for me – the only real difference is the PPE we wear to protect ourselves. I am happy at home and at work because I feel very aware and in control of my environment. The only conscious change is that I am avoiding visiting elderly relatives’ and careful to observe “Social distancing” which, along with good hygiene, is the most important element to fight the spread of this virus.

One of the main reasons Lisa says she was able to make her return to hospital nursing was the support from her husband, family, and friends. ‘As soon as the Coronavirus hit the news, my husband looked at me and said, ‘You are going to go back, aren’t you?’. He knew that if I felt I was needed, I would want to go. He works in the military so understands the sense of duty, knows where my heart lies, and never once questioned me or tried to change my mind.’

Lisa also credits her grandmother, Kathleen Blower, who was recognised last year for her service as a Petty Officer Wren in the Second World War with a medal at the age of 96. Kathleen went on to have a long volunteering role within the league of friends at St Mary’s Hospital in Portsmouth for over 30 years, an inspiration Lisa wants to continue within her own family.

‘I want to be the same role model for my daughters as she was for me. Like all the people I am working with again, I am a nurse to my very core, and I am proud to play my part when it is needed.’

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