I have had a truly fabulous career and have loved almost every single minute of it, including the challenges that we face every day
Matron for Tissue Viability at Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust
Current SoTV role
Q1- When did you realise you wanted to specialise in tissue viability?
This did not happen for several years as I was very happy working on a general surgical ward with all the variations in surgical procedures. However, watching the TVNs apply dressings such as NPWT did interest me from the very beginning, but I wanted to learn everything else first about our bodies and how we react to surgical procedures. My interest peaked in tissue viability whilst working on a vascular ward and much to my dismay this was being moved so I looked at what other roles dealt with patients with complex wounds. So, I pretty much stalked the tissue viability team whenever they appeared on the ward. Think it was a few years later that Margaret the TVN came on the ward one day saying we have a job coming up Sharon, will you apply then you can stop following me!
Q2 – Can you briefly describe your journey to your current role?
I completed my training in 2000 in my twenties as the last Project 2000 student nursing intake and then completed my last placement on the same surgical ward where I began my nursing career. I stayed at this Trust for 18 years. My love of surgical nursing began in my student nurse days. However, it was while working on the surgical unit that I developed a keen interest in surgical wounds, what can go wrong, and how these wounds are managed. We used larvae therapy, NPWT and one of my very first experiences as a staff nurse was using egg white and oxygen!
I was pulled into the world of vascular nursing by an enthusiastic nurse called Leanne. She taught me all things vascular, and I attended a leg ulcer clinic once a week and this was mind-blowing! The number of people with lower limb wounds that were struggling affected me and resulted in me choosing the vascular ward as my next step.
I then started working as TVN at the same Trust in 2014, and all I can say this was an eye-opening experience. I was given the title of Tissue Viability Clinical Nurse Specialist on day 1! I was nowhere near a specialist in my opinion, yet people including patients and relatives were looking at me for all the answers. This was very daunting and did wonder if I had made the right choice, so I ended up looking for support from outside organisations. I enrolled in courses, ended up buying books about wound healing, and just tried to absorb as much information as I could.
Becoming a member of the Tissue Viability Society as it was known helped me find lots of information, especially from their website where I was a regular visitor. The Society of Tissue Viability as it is now known has undergone some changes and it is now seen as a place for all HCPs to get advice and support and interact. The role as a Trustee has been a valuable addition to my career as it has opened connections and I have also built up relationships that have helped build my confidence.
In 2018 I left the Trust, which I considered my home, and started at another Trust as Lead Tissue Viability Nurse where I began my journey into contracts/policy writing and investigating to name but a few new roles I needed to learn. Then in 2023, I was fortunate enough to obtain a secondment back at Mid Yorkshire Teaching Trust as Matron for Tissue viability. I have to say it was like going back home however I have had to get used to being a Matron and being visible! I am a person who likes to blend in, so I have been learning a great deal about myself and pushing my personal comfort boundaries! This may seem strange coming from a lady in her 50s but every day is a learning day and I feel you should always push your boundaries a little more each day.
Q3 – What do you feel has been your greatest achievement in your career to date?
Being where I am. I have a lovely family, 4 beautiful children ranging from 30 to 10 years of age, 2 grandchildren, and a husband who puts up with me working from home, always being late and leaving tissue viability literature lying about! I have had a truly fabulous career and have loved almost every single minute of it, including the challenges that we face every day.
Q4 – If you could give your younger self some valuable advice, what would it be?
Don’t miss out on opportunities because it’s out of your comfort zone. Grab life and enjoy it to the fullest, even in the darkest times there will always be light, you may need family or some extremely good friends to drag you through it but then the next chapter can begin. Enjoy it!!
I pretty much stalked the tissue viability team whenever they appeared on the ward. I think it was a few years later that Margaret the TVN visited the ward one day saying we have a job coming up Sharon, will you apply then you can stop following me!