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The journey from engineer to a specialist nurse

3rd February 2021

Diversity in a nursing or healthcare team enables a broad range of opinions and talents to be used and shared in a collective manner, which ultimately benefits patient care. However, nursing is still a largely gendered profession with statistics showing just 11 per cent of nurses in the UK are male. One of that ‘11 per cent’ is Specialist Homecare Nurse, Colin Richards, part of our nursing team in the Southampton region.

Colin’s journey into nursing is quite unique. He started his career as a mechanical engineer, working for companies including ITT and British Aerospace. He swapped engineering for IT and trained as a certified computer hardware engineer before eventually moving into software support.

Later in life, he turned to nursing and 14 years later now administers various medications including biologic therapies and systemic anti-cancer therapies in patients’ homes. Colin joined Healthcare at Home in 2015, with over nine years’ experience working as a healthcare assistant in an operating theatre, an anaesthetic nurse practitioner, A&E staff nurse and a community nurse.

He said: “At Healthcare at Home I enjoy a varied working environment, providing a wide range of treatments to some great patients. “Statistics now show that one in two people will experience cancer in their lives. I feel I’ve been able to make a difference as a nurse by training to administer systemic anti-cancer therapy. “The feedback I have received from many patients is that they enjoy having treatment at home. They say it is more discreet and they don’t miss the hassle of parking at hospital. “Also, there is a lack of trained nurses able to administer chemotherapy, so I have also been able to pass on my skills and experience to help colleagues who are now doing their own chemotherapy training.” The learning never stops, either. HaH provides monthly e-learning updates and ensures colleagues are kept informed and up to date on Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and treatment protocols.

A diverse group of patients should undoubtedly be served by a diverse nursing workforce to help reduce health disparities, improve outcomes and transform care in an ever-evolving patient population, so would Colin recommend a career in nursing for men? He admitted: “Absolutely! Nursing will not be for everyone so consider everything carefully. However, there are so many working environments in nursing and they can provide a fulfilling career.”

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