My journey into a career within sexual health services started in 1996 when I worked for a nursing agency as a support worker. One day the nursing agency contacted me to see if I would be interested in a week’s placement in sexual health at Genito-Urinary Medicine (now Integrated Sexual Health Services Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust – CWPT). I thought it sounded interesting and with it only being a one-week placement, I thought I would give it a go to see if I enjoyed it. A week turned into three weeks which turned into six months, and eventually the department was so pleased with how things were working that they decided to offer me a permanent post.
After working as a support worker for eight years, an opportunity came up to do a secondment which would enable me to qualify as a nurse by going to Coventry University for three years. I put my application in and luckily, with my portfolio of experience behind me, I was offered a place on the course. After leaving school with hardly any qualifications, I didn’t think I would be able to complete the degree level qualification, so I opted for the diploma instead. However, after the first year on the course my tutor said he hoped that I was going for the degree level, so I changed my mind and managed to get a degree with a Merit, and I qualified as a nurse in 2008. In recognition of my achievement, I was nominated for the trusts celebrating success award 2008.
I worked as a band 5 nurse for three years and then I applied for a band 6 position as a Senior Sexual Health Nurse Practitioner. I didn’t get the first post I applied for, but I did get the second one. At which point I went back to university to gain a qualification in contraception which would enable me to fit and remove implants. This gave me another skillset as I was already trained to care for people with HIV and on the sexual health side.
I have been a Senior Sexual Health Practitioner within the Integrated Sexual Health Service at CWPT ever since. My favourite thing about my job is how interesting it is. I see and deal with people every day and I enjoy it when a new experience comes my way (although that doesn’t happen very often – I’ve worked in the department for 25 years, so I have seen a lot!). I like being able to provide holistic care to patients. It’s nice to be able to see patients for their sexual health needs and contraception needs in one visit, where we can accommodate. The team I work with are also brilliant, although there are only two people left now that worked here when I started – I have seen a lot of people come and go!
As part of the role, we do have to treat people who may have been involved in distressing situations, such as alcohol/drug rapes. This is upsetting for both the patient and the member of staff treating them as that person’s ability to consent to sex was taken away from them. As this week is Sexual Health Week (13 – 19 September), and this year’s theme is based on consent, I would encourage everybody to view the resources produced by Brook charity, to ensure everybody understands consent and its importance. The resources include training for professionals working with young people, free e-learning, podcasts, help and advice, and much more. You can view the resources on Brook’s website at: Sexual Health Week 2021 - Consent: Do you get it? (brook.org.uk)
You can find out more about CWPT’s Integrated Sexual Health Service by visiting the website: Home | Integrated Sexual Health Service (ishs.org.uk)