Working for a hospice children’s team is demanding, Tina is so committed to her job as Children’s Clinical Nurse Specialist that she has completed a degree course while working full time. After battling Long Covid, she couldn’t wait to get back to what she loves doing best – caring for children with life-limiting illnesses and supporting their families.
Tina, who has been with the hospice charity for five years, graduated this summer with a degree in palliative care. Her colleagues and her friends and family were so proud of her achievement, but Tina prefers just to get on with the job in hand.
She said: “I’m not one for the limelight. I started the course a couple of years ago and originally wanted to do a degree with honours but then I got severe Covid. I finished the coursework in 2020 but then it had to go to the board for them to decide if I could have my degree.”
Tina was very lucky to have the support of ellenor, who paid for half of her tuition fees and half the mileage, and of husband Sacha, who drove with her from their home in Rochester to Wolverhampton once a week for lectures – a trip of three or four hours each way.
She said: “We would set off the night before and stay in a hotel so I would be fresh for the following day at university.”
Tina studied three modules: bereavement support, communication and symptom management. She particularly enjoyed learning more about how to communicate with patients and families when providing palliative and end of life care.
She said: “You adopt a different mindset; you just have to be there to support people. Just let them talk and say how they feel and don’t worry about the quiet gaps.”
After qualifying as a children’s nurse 12 years ago, Tina has completed a few other courses, but admitted her latest degree was a real challenge. Her two children, Rebecca, 27, and Sophie, 25, were so proud of their mum, sending her encouraging messages on the day of her graduation.
She will be celebrating her 50th birthday this year with a cruise – but then it will be back to some more serious studying for a post graduate certificate in Bristol from January 2023. She will be studying at Masters level for two modules; clinical assessment of a child and palliative care in children.
The course will be an extra challenge as Tina still battles the long-term effects of Covid, which she contracted right at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 and led to nine months off work.
She said: “It was before testing and before the injections. Thinking about it now, it’s quite scary. I’m a nurse and I know you should take 16-18 breaths in and out in one minute, and I was doing 60. I fractured ribs from coughing. I had massive breathing and lung problems which ended up with me being in and out of hospital and suffering acute fatigue. I had headaches and temperatures on a daily basis and inflammation in my joints, particularly feet and hips. I’m such a go getter, so it was a real struggle – I couldn’t even read. I still sleep between nine and ten hours a night even now.