Staff Career Stories

There are so many fabulous career opportunities in Nursing and Midwifery here at NUH.

Each month we showcase different staff stories so you can see the opportunities available and the routes people have taken to achieve them. All staff who feature in these stories are happy to be contacted regarding careers conversations.

We would love to hear about your own unique career path so should you wish to feature in our staff stories please contact

Liavel Vargas - HEE-EM Professional Fellow

Name: Liavel VargasPhoto of Liavel Vargas

Current Role: HEE-EM Professional Fellow – Career Develop-ment and retention Nottinghamshire Nursing and Midwifery Cabinet

Ward/Department: HEE-EM/Institute of Nursing and Mid-wifery Care Excellence

Division: Corporate

I started my career in the NHS as a Cadet Nurse in Lincoln in 2005 where I gained an NVQ Level 2 in Health and Social Care and a Level 3 BTEC National Certificate in Care. I then progressed on to do my BSc in Nursing in Nottingham University and gained my qualification in 2011. My first ever Band 5 role was as a Theatre Practitioner – Neuro Theatres. I then went on to work in a cardiac ward in Lincoln, ED in NUH, Preceptorship Support Nurse and then travelled across borders and worked in a Clinical Decisions Unit and A&E in Scotland (relocated with my husband).

I am now back in Nottinghamshire, initially working as a Practice Educator and in December 2018, was given the opportunity to take on the fellowship secondment with Health Education England – East Midlands, looking at career development and clearer career pathways for nurses and midwives in Nottinghamshire.
During the span of my career so far, I have embraced the change and made sure that I actively seek for opportunities within my role. I never really had a "plan". Instead, I drew on what my passion is - edu-cation and supporting people and made sure that I practice these in the roles I have taken. I have en-joyed moving and gaining different experience, meeting like-minded people, and building my confi-dence as I progressed.

Career advice for fellow colleagues?

Self-motivation is key. Be open minded and welcoming of the different opportunities available around you – big or small. Ask questions, network and appreciate your talent more. Be creative and always bear in mind that the skills you learn along the way are transferrable. Do not limit yourself and go for the opportunity as it arises. There is never a "right time". You will "win some and lose some" and that's ok! Every experience is a building block to your future.
Be kind to everyone you meet during your career – you never know when your paths will cross again.

You can contact Lia for more information and advice:

Leon Wood - Emergency Department Advanced Clinical Practitioner

Name: Leon WoodPhoto of Leon Wood

Current Role: Emergency Department Advanced Clinical Practitioner

Ward/Department: ED

Division: Medicine

I qualified as a RN in 2003 at NUH with a diploma from the University of Nottingham, joining the Emergency Department (ED) in 2004 as a band 5. I enjoyed the role and was promoted to a band 6. I then undertook and completed my degree in 2011, whilst attaining a secondment to a Band 7 within ED. In 2012 I successfully secured a place on the MSc Advanced Clinical Practice, with a role change to become an Advanced Clinical Practitioner in ED. I qualified in 2015 as an ACP, completing my dissertation in 2016.

I have loved my career. During which I have had personal battles with stress, anxiety and depression, which I continue to manage with excellent support from the ED and the wellbeing services at NUH.

Career advice for fellow colleagues?

To be driven; concentrate on being the best you can be in your current role. Cement the basic components of care and have holistic awareness of the needs of the patient and their family.

Take opportunities to go out of your comfort zone and get involved in your department - things like the NUH transformation project and the drive to achieve Magnet status. Speak to those in the role you aspire to gain. Finally, look after yourself physically and mentally, so you can look after others.

You can contact Leon for more information and advice:

Lorraine Collins - Ward Sister/Manager

Name: Lorraine CollinsPhoto of Lorraine Collins

Current Role: Ward Sister/Manager

Department: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Division: Family Health

I came to the NNU at NUH from Yorkshire due to my partner relocating. From being a Registered Nurse then on to Midwifery, I was given a placement on the Neonatal Unit in Leeds and there was no turning back. I proceeded to qualify as an Intensive Care Neonatal Nurse. I moved to NUH and worked as a Staff Nurse, I then applied for a secondment to work in Grantham to support the Midwifery and Childrens nurses, with a team of other nurses from the Neonatal Unit. Following on from this I came back to work part time as a Junior Sister and then as a fulltime Sister. The position of Ward Sister came up and I was lucky enough to be given the position. I can honestly say that when I come to work I am challenged with something different every day. The Neonatal team I work with are an amazing group of nurses and the medical team too. I work in this role to help influence change and encourage staff to achieve great things in the Neonatal service. I am one of the older nurses who did not achieve a degree, my training when I think back was very old fashioned but the basics never change. Last year I was fortunate enough to be offered the chance to do my degree in a year funded by Nottingham Hospitals Charity. It was a difficult but rewarding time and I met a great group of nurses doing the same thing. I have worked here now in the Neonatal service for 25 years (not bad when I was only going to stay for two years).

My current role has allowed me to rotate between both sites on the Neonatal Units with my base at QMC at present. I manage the shifts to ensure the correct amount of staff with the correct skills are in the right places. I recruit new staff; a role I love as it is good to hear the experiences of students soon to be Newly Qualified Nurses and their expectations of nursing.

Career advice for fellow colleagues?

My career continues to grow in Neonatal services as well as new experiences. The Neonatal service is a great place to nurture the babies and families as well as its staff. Being able to flourish in a dynamic team environment and encouraging and supporting staff to grasp all opportunities out there. If you want to do something different every day and learn about something new, where there is most up to date research based knowledge for our very small patients, then this is the place to be. It takes a special kind of nurse to work here.

My best advice is to come and sees us, come and talk to the staff. If you see us out in the hospital come and have a chat. Why not come and work at one of the fastest growing specialities? I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.

You can contact Lorraine for information/advice:

Sara Glen - C4 Staff Nurse (Tissue Viability Link Nurse)

Name: Sara GlenPhoto of Sara Glen

Current Role: Staff Nurse (Tissue Viability Link Nurse and Shared Governance Chair)

Ward/Department: C4

Division: Acute Medicine/Diabetes

I worked as a healthcare assistant for 6 years on acute mental health wards, with the elderly in the community and in residence with people with learning disabilities. I loved my job but thought I wasn’t ‘clever’ enough to be a nurse!  I qualified in 2015 from the Graduate Entry Nursing MSc course with a 1:1!  I was a very nervous newly qualified. My management placement was on C4. The team had a variety of staff bands and experience who were supportive in my first year.

Through the preceptorship year I was able to navigate an enjoyable first year which I am proud of. I became chair of the Newly Qualified Forum, implementing yellow lanyards for newly qualified nurses. I was awarded the HEEM silver research scholarship. I then went on maternity leave for a year. I came back a more confident and mature nurse.

I applied for a band 6 position on our ward but didn’t get it. However, it led me to ask for more management opportunities such as dealing with patient complaints, clinical audits and staff training. We set up a C4 shared governance council and I became chair. I am just about to go on maternity leave again.

Sara’s career advice for fellow colleagues:

Seek out the opportunities – They are there! Choose a ward where the staff are approachable and open, where you will be happy to ask for opportunities. Without the vision of my managers and their willingness to give me time off the ward I wouldn’t have been able to develop myself how I have. Even while on maternity leave I have sought out multiple distance/online courses and visits I have been able to make. For example specialist diabetes training, keeping up to date with your specialisms research, the Edward Jenner programme and the Talent Management Hub from the NHS Leadership Academy.

Keep pushing – If you don’t succeed, try again. There are so many different roles and routes in nursing that your career will not be linear and it will take breaks but these detours show you how to progress, mature you and make you a better nurse. Try research, try teaching, try another speciality. Get out of your comfort zone as soon as possible! You are more capable than you realise!

Work Life Balance – Taking two maternity leaves in five years has not stopped me from progressing in my career and I feel I am a better nurse. The NHS is fantastically supportive and forward thinking for people with families; giving support for maternity leave and flexible working whilst still encouraging you to develop your career. Don’t doubt yourself, and enjoy both!

You can contact Sara for more information and advice: