Nurse celebrates 50th year in the profession
While the nursing profession around the world is celebrating the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, for one nurse 2020 is especially important as it marks her 50th year as a nurse.
Sheron Stephenson is Ophthalmology Nursing Manager at Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre in Somerset, UK. and she began her nursing career in South Africa in 1970. She was brought up in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and began her nursing career at Entabeni Hospital, Durban Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa as a trainee. Sheron has worked in various nursing roles, from trainee to junior nurse, senior nurse, lead and manager in both hospitals and clinics. She has worked with many consultant surgeons over the years as their personal assistant/nurse. Throughout her career she has mainly worked in surgery, enjoying the versatility it brings.
In 2004 Sheron left South Africa for the UK and joined Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre in 2006 not long after it opened (July 2005), initially working in the Post-anaesthesia Care Unit (PACU). With an interest in ophthalmology, in 2014 Sheron was tasked with developing the hospital’s Ophthalmology Department as a unit of its own. The service provides a high standard of care in cataract and glaucoma treatment for patients across Somerset and beyond, and she has grown the team which now comprises six nurses. The team works between the Outpatient Department and theatre, guiding patients through the care pathway from pre-assessment to surgery, follow-ups and discharge. Sheron said: “Our patients get to know us quite well and we them. When a patient regains vision and with it independence and joy of life, their gratefulness and appreciation reminds me of how lucky I am to be a positive part in their life’s journey. It is quite humbling.”
Sheron was part of the team who worked to achieve a rating of ‘Outstanding’ for the hospital from the Care Quality Commission, the first and only hospital to achieve this measure across all the areas covered by the independent assessment. Her own team are a hit with patients, regularly scoring 100% in the national Friends and Family Test.
Speaking of the last 50 years, Sheron commented: “Although I have given of myself, spent hours in overtime and been ‘emotionally spent’ on many occasions, I have gained in so many ways. I have grown personally, made lifelong friends and met some very courageous patients.” She added: “I have been a part of nursing as it has and still is evolving: from large surgical cuts to smaller cuts and microscopic surgery; from long stays in hospital to, in some cases, not even a day for major surgery as we pioneer procedures such as same-day hip replacements. The growth of the nurse’s role in the medical world has been interesting and daunting at the same time. Of all the roles I have had, my current one has been the most rewarding – a great bonus for me in my 50th year in the profession!”
Sheron is married with two children and four grandchildren. When not working she enjoys walking, true and historical novels and books, and is currently involved in ancestral research.
Lesley Boler, Chief Nurse, Quality and Governance at Care UK (which runs Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre), said: “My congratulations go to Sheron for such a long and meaningful career. She is a fine example of how the role of the nurse has developed, especially in the implementation and delivery of nurse-run services. She is a credit to herself and an inspiration to us all.” Andrew Oakerbee, Hospital Director at Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre, added: “We are very lucky to have such as experienced nurse as Sheron as one of our colleagues. She and her team provide a stellar service to our cataract and glaucoma patients, not just here in the hospital but also at clinics across Somerset. I congratulate her for such an impressive career and track record.”