Perioperative careers.
Abstract: When I look back at how my career started, I think to myself, what if I had undertaken the BA in Business Studies which I had been accepted for, instead of the BSc in Nursing for which I was still waiting to hear the results of my interview? Well, probably I would have spent four years studying business, followed by 40 years sitting in an office somewhere; Tesco, Sainsbury's or Marks and Spencer probably. I was lucky though, my father phoned up every couple of weeks (I was only 17 and didn't really have a clue what I wanted to do) and eventually they said 'yes' and I started my nursing career. Perhaps this is the first bit of advice for anybody thinking of a career in health
Article Type: Viewpoint essay
Subject: Medical personnel (Practice)
Medical personnel (Services)
Medical professions (Analysis)
Author: Wicker, Paul
Pub Date: 04/01/2012
Publication: Name: Journal of Perioperative Practice Publisher: Association for Perioperative Practice Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 Association for Perioperative Practice ISSN: 1750-4589
Issue: Date: April, 2012 Source Volume: 22 Source Issue: 4
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics; 360 Services information
Product: Product Code: 8010000 Medical Personnel NAICS Code: 62 Health Care and Social Assistance
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 293545456
Full Text: Advice 1: Be persistent when you apply for a health career - show interest, enthusiasm and commitment.

I then spent the next five years studying health care and working in the hospitals. By the end of it I knew I didn't want to work on the wards: I was embarrassed telling young men that they had to go to bed at 8pm; I hated doing ward rounds with pots of tea and trays of biscuits; and I wasn't particularly fond of being called a 'male nurse' (just a bit discriminatory!) by the patients or the staff. I decided to go into ... psychiatry! Yey! I really enjoyed it. I spent six months looking after hormonally challenged teenagers, psychotic residents, elderly frail demented grandmas and grandpas, acute admissions ... I loved it. This was the career for me!

But, at the same time, I felt that I had to consolidate my general nurse training otherwise I would always think to myself, 'I can't do general nursing'. So instead I decided to spend a year in general nursing and then go back to psychiatry. Well, it never happened. I spent the rest of my career in health care - actually in operating department practice. No I'm not an ODP, but I did do a 12 month theatre course which, in my humble opinion, was the best course at the time and one of the best ever run, by anybody!

Advice 2: Keep your options open. Spend your early years travelling around and getting a breadth of experience - the depth of experience will come later.

So I did travel around. Starting in a recovery unit, I moved to a private operating theatre, then a general surgery theatre in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, followed by some time in a cardiac theatre, then three years travelling around Australia. After that I returned and started specialising in trauma, then in orthopaedics, then trauma orthopaedics again and finally, after 15 years of toil and graft, moved towards education. Looking back now I think to myself - what heady days! They were the best years of my life!

So why did I go into education?

Well after 15 years in the operating theatre, I felt that I needed to change. I had already written a couple of books, over a hundred articles and been on the Editorial Board of this Journal. I knew I had academic skills. It was time for a change. So, firstly I was an Education Coordinator, then I became a Programme Leader for a joint Trust/University Programme and finally I moved to Edge Hill University in Ormskirk where I have been for the last 11 years.

In many ways this was a complete change in career. No longer working in theatres, but teaching students about it. My years of experience really counted here, much more than my Degree or even my PG Certificate in Teaching and Learning. Of course these things are important, but most important is being able to support your thoughts and ideas and teaching with experience.

Advice 3: Specialise in a particular area, and gain the depth of knowledge and skills which will always stay with you.

I then moved from Programme Leader, to Programme Manager to Head of Department, where I am sitting quite happily now. For those of you who like education, the universities can provide and interesting and varied career.

But what else is there?

Well, nowadays clinical work can offer lots of options. You don't have to stay as a Band 5 all your life, unless you want to, or follow the 'normal' (and limited opportunities for) career pathway of Bands 6, 7 and 8. Doing an Assistant Surgical Practitioner (ASP) course can set you up to legally do the things which many practitioners want to do, or already do (perhaps against the guidance of their employer or professional body). For example, prepping, draping, retracting, cutting sutures, holding instruments and assisting the surgeon. This adds just a little bit to the role of the theatre practitioner. Another step, of course, is to do the Surgical Care Practitioner course which is now being organised and consolidated by the Royal College of Surgeons. In this role you take a huge leap forward and take on the role of a) a junior surgeon and b) a highly qualified, and valuable, assistant to consultant surgeons. And c) you earn more money, which is always a good thing!

Then there is the research route. There is, after all, very little perioperative research around; most of it is medical based. Getting a job as a research nurse/ODP can open up a lot of opportunities for learning new skills in new areas.

Leadership and management is an important part of the health service and again, for those who are interested, it can be very rewarding especially at senior levels. I have always thought that working in the operating department is a great basis for developing management skills. For example, when a junior practitioner works with a senior surgeon or anaesthetist, the practitioner has to learn how to negotiate, plan, organise and execute work activities with or without the help and support of the surgeon and anaesthetist. This is great experience for later days when managing an operating department or even going higher and managing hospitals. It's interesting to note how many senior managers have come from a theatre background.

And finally, I suppose, there are jobs outside the operating department, such as company representatives, oil rig medics, accident and emergency work, and intensive care practitioners.

Advice 4: Think outside the box - you can then develop the skills, knowledge and experience to work almost anywhere!

Well, I think I've said enough; all I want to do now is wish you all the best for your perioperative career - wherever it might take you!

* Paul Wicker

Head of Perioperative Studies, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk

Life as they see it - members of AfPP write on issues that concern or interest them

KEYWORDS Perioperative / Careers / Education

Provenance and Peer review: Commissioned; Not peer reviewed; Accepted for publication March 2012.
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.