Terri's story

Terri’s nursing career stretches to almost four decades within the NHS.

“My mother was a nurse,” remembers Terri “she worked as a Matron but unfortunately she died when I was just 12 years old. I was inspired to go into nursing, following her example.”

Terri started her nursing experience working on hospital medical wards and later as an agency nurse, fitting shifts around family commitments. Returning to full-time nursing, Terri gained more vital experience as an operating theatre recovery nurse, then quickly progressed to working in the operating theatre itself. She always had the desire to work in the military and, twenty years into her nursing career, the time felt right to apply.

Terri, a Major in 203 Welsh Field Hospital, Cardiff, is second in charge of the Army nursing squadron, within the unit. She is also part of the training team and supports the Healthcare governance lead. Terri joined the army mid-way through her nursing career.

“I had actually signed up to join the Army when I was seventeen,” said Terri “but I was advised to develop my nursing experience in the NHS and bring those skills to the military later. So, in 2002, I took the bull by the horns and joined the Army as a Reservist nurse.”

Since joining the Army Reserve, Terri has completed many courses including a Clinical Leadership degree and her Masters’ degree in Disaster Healthcare. She has also been deployed to Afghanistan on four occasions, working within the emergency department, as a trauma nurse co-ordinator and twice as head of the operating theatre department.

“My nursing team work very well together, respecting and communicating, for the benefit of those we care for. There is always something beneficial you can learn from someone else, even if they are within the same speciality, or have less experience than yourself. When you are away on deployment, or on a mission, you are living and working with your team, so it is advantageous to get on with them. Whether you are out for three months or seven months, your team become your family. Their security and wellbeing were important to me.”

Terri also worked with a charity called PONT, a community link between Rhondda Cynon Taf and Mbale district in Uganda. She has shown that she has been able to offer her considerable skills and knowledge to improve and develop the operating theatre services in Mbale district hospital. Terri has made two trips to Mbale District Hospital and her impact has been to reduce cross infection with improved hand hygiene and the use of gloves and face masks. She also took the opportunity to introduce concepts of patient dignity and confidentiality and more effective communication between hospital departments and between male and female staff which, at times, is a real challenge.

Terri was nominated for a Cavell Star Award for going above and beyond for her work in Uganda, volunteering her time, at her own expense, to improve the lives of the patients in Mbale district. In addition, Terri has completed two missions with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent, through the British Red Cross, to South Sudan. Her first mission was working out in the field in austere circumstances, for six months, caring for war wounded and the local population, affected by the civil war. Her second mission, found her working in collaboration with the health team in Juba, leading the teaching, mentoring and supervision of the resident operating theatre staff, updating ICRC guidelines and practices and promoting high standards of care and practice with the surgical team.

Colleague and fellow Reservist nurse Caroline Whittaker explains,

“Terri is a self-starter and proactive and has been able to combine her civilian and military experience and skills to good effect. She is well used to working with a diverse group of personnel, in what can be difficult and challenging circumstances. Terri is such an important role model for other nurses.”

Terri reacted to winning her Cavell Star Award,

“It was a massive shock, but I’m very grateful. It is an honour to be recognised by my colleagues. You don’t do your job for that reason, but when you get praised, it’s heart-warming. Edith Cavell was an inspiring nurse and to be linked to her, in any way, is a phenomenal achievement and privilege for me. It’s a prestigious award that I didn’t expect to be nominated for, let alone win!”

Edith Cavell nursed in WWI and is celebrated for saving the lives of soldiers from both sides of the conflict. She remains an inspiration to many and Cavell Nurses’ Trust maintain her legacy in their work supporting UK nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants.

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