Five years ago Stacey Wilson fulfilled a childhood ambition to become a nurse when she qualified upon graduating from the University of Cumbria.
Her career to date includes two years working in the accident and emergency department at the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle and a further two on a surgical ward at the city hospital.
Six months ago Stacey secured promotion and she is now one of two sepsis nurse specialists who oversee the care and treatment of more than 3,000 patients per month at north Cumbria’s two main hospitals.
Such specialists focus on the screening and treatment of sepsis patients and provide education and training for staff.
With a varied career, Stacey, who embarked on higher education at the age of 26, is returning to the university’s Fusehill Street campus in Carlisle to meet current students.
On Monday (25 February), Stacey will be talking about recognising sepsis and patient care. Stacey is visiting as part of North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust’s sepsis awareness month during which events and educational experiences to build awareness and knowledge of sepsis amongst staff, patients and visitors are taking place.
The University of Cumbria offers nursing degrees approved by Nursing and Midwifery Council and all students are in work or further study six months after graduation.
Stacey, 34, from Carlisle, said: “I always wanted to be Duffy off BBC’s Casualty. My mum bought me a nurse’s outfit and a toy medical kit when I was small and it was my dream right there.
“I started as a healthcare assistant at the Cumberland Infirmary when I was 21 and my colleagues encouraged me to sign up for university. I had GCSEs from school, gone back to college to get better grades and had run a business with my mum before that. I didn’t set foot onto a campus until 10 March 2010 – the day I had my interview at the University of Cumbria’s Fusehill Street campus.
“The part I went into was previously the city’s maternity rooms where I was born. It was also the day that I met two of my best friends and we did the course together.”
She continued: “I worked full time and did my diploma of higher education in nursing studies at the same time. It was tough but so worth it. I got my first nursing job in the June when I finished the course and graduated in the November, that was in 2013. I’ve never looked back.
“It is a privilege to be able to serve the people and community I know in north Cumbria and that has been possible because of the University of Cumbria. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the university. Everyone was so wonderfully supportive and would help in whatever way they could and that is why I’m happy to be going back to help today’s students.”
Denise Brooks, whose extensive clinical career has included leading specialist sepsis services at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, has recently joined the university as a senior lecturer in CPD, acute and critical care in its Department for Nursing, Health and Professional Practice.
She said: “Sepsis is on the increase across the population, with the elderly and very young particularly vulnerable. There has been a significant drive across all patient areas to insure prompt recognition and treatment, sepsis is life threatening – you are up against time to ensure the appropriate treatment is given.
“The role of the sepsis nurse is to raise the profile of sepsis, recognition and treatment, working with staff to respond to patient need where ever they are receiving their care. A large proportion of patients with sepsis present from the community to hospital. Stacey will be able to create those stronger links and raise awareness to ensure better outcomes for patients.
“Specialist nurses like Stacey help create that vital network and raise awareness, education not just for health professionals but the general public about sepsis. It is wonderful to see that Stacey is returning to the university and helping to inspire and educate today’s cohort of student nurses, showing some of the fantastic career and work options open to them.”
Those interested in entering nursing can find out more at the university's upcoming open days in March and April.