Amanda is an RN (Child Branch) who had a 10-year career in the NHS. She had 6 years as a surgical nurse. Then a maternity break followed by work with a school nursing team. After changing back to a more clinical A&E-based role, she realised that she longed for a less stressful work experience. Her answer was to retrain and setup her own business as an acupuncturist.
Diploma of Higher Education with Distinction in Nursing Studies (Child Branch)
Bachelor of Science with Upper Second-Class Honours in Acupuncture
Children’s surgery (Royal Victoria Infirmary/Great Northern Children’s Hospital)
Staff Nurse with the School Nursing Team (County Durham and Darlington Trust)
Treatment and Assessment Unit/A&E (Great Northern Children’s Hospital)
Children’s Day Unit (Great Northern Children’s Hospital)
(Nursing career 2005-2015)
I graduated as a paediatric staff nurse from Northumbria University in 2005 having found my nurse training throughout the Newcastle Trust a very varied and enjoyable experience. I particularly enjoyed my paediatric A&E and surgical placements, and prior to qualifying was very fortunate to receive job offers in both specialities as well as a job in my local district hospital.
I accepted the surgical nurse post within the Newcastle Trust, and although I had some distance to commute felt this was the best place to start my nursing career, gain confidence and experience. I stayed in this post until I had my son in 2011. Due to life changes, the original hospital becoming the Great Northern Children’s Hospital, ward merges and ever-growing pressures, I decided this was a perfect time for a change.
The next stage in my career was as a staff nurse working alongside the school nursing team closer to home (and better hours!!) There were many elements of this job that I absolutely loved, but I began to miss the clinical element of nursing and was worried about de-skilling so early in my career.
As a result, I decided I would try my hand at my other passion; A&E. I returned to the Great Northern Children’s Hospital and worked on the adjoining side of the A&E Department in the Assessment and Treatment Unit and Day Unit. I absolutely loved this job. It was fast paced, I learnt new skills every day, and no two shifts were ever the same. Unfortunately, moral was extremely low due to management issues, and staff retention was very much a problem. Although I enjoyed the job, being a mother of two young children, long hours in a stressful environment become all too much. It was at this turning point in my life that I had to reassess everything, and this is when acupuncture went from an idea into a reality!
What would I have done differently?
I am a great believer that good or bad, the jobs that I have had have all contributed to my skill set and made me the person that I am today. If I had my time again, I still would have done my nursing as it has complimented my role as a Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncturist.
On reflection, following my maternity leave, maybe moving to a more local hospital might have alleviated some of the pressures I felt from the commuting, child care strains, and the emotional strains of juggling everything.
What advice would you offer?
Based on where I am today in my life, I would say that if you find your passion for nursing starting to waver, not to be afraid to try something new. This could be in a completely different field of nursing/ part of the health sector, or even a complete career change. The skills you have gained as a nurse, both clinical and non-clinical never leave you, and it’s amazing how these skills transfer to your new role. I don’t ever look back and think I have wasted time being a nurse, it is still one of the best things I have ever done, as I say; ‘once a nurse, always a nurse’.
Who offered you the best career advice… and did you take it?
I would say that the best career advice came from my mum, dad and husband when deliberating on whether to leave the nursing profession to become an acupuncturist. Obviously, there were lots of pros and cons to consider, and I listened to them all. Luckily, we were all unanimous about the idea, which made this particular decision a very easy one to make.
What have you liked least about your working life?
I would say that any job is hard when you are a working mum but my lowest moments have come from poor managers turning a job that you love into one that you resent. This includes issues regarding low morale, poor skill mix and staff shortages, inappropriate break times or lack of, and late issuing of off duty making it difficult to organise child care and your life!!!
What have you enjoyed most?
My very first job as a staff nurse working on a neonatal surgical ward. The manager was amazing, which in turn made it a great place to work. I enjoyed the role and developing my skills as a newly qualified nurse over the years. Most importantly, I loved the team in which I belonged. I remember thinking how lucky I was to do a job that I loved so much.
Today in my role as an acupuncturist, after qualifying from the Northern College of Acupuncture, I love being able to give my clients 100% of my time with no pressures or distractions. I appreciate that I am able take a holistic approach to assessment and treatment of one’s individual health, as in nursing this was an impossibility. Ultimatly, I love being my own boss and having a better work-life balance!
As well as being a small, friendly college with a first-class reputation for its courses – there are many reasons people choose to study and train at the Northern College of Acupuncture (NCA).
Every year, the College welcomes students from many diverse backgrounds, from across the UK and beyond, and each student has their own unique reason for wanting to become an acupuncturist.
Many people, having had acupuncture themselves and experienced amazing results, are inspired to learn more about this ancient traditional Chinese medicine. Others are guided by an innate desire to help others, to forge a new career, or to add to existing skills. Most often, a combination of these motives is the reason over 30 students every year choose to change their lives by studying at the NCA.
Increasingly the College is seeing a demand from students from a Western healthcare background retraining to become acupuncturists. Amanda Proud, who graduated with a BSc in Acupuncture from the NCA last summer, is a nurse who made this life-changing career change. From the Northeast of England, Amanda worked in nursing for over 10 years before a combination of life and work events motivated her to change careers. After a chance conversation with a friend who was having acupuncture treatment, Amanda attended one of the NCA’s popular ‘Intro Days’ and immediately knew what she wanted to do with the rest of her life!
Here is Amanda’s story:
“Ultimately, work-life balance was my big drive in wanting to become an acupuncturist and, with being a nurse, I wanted to enter another profession where I was still helping people. I also had two young children, just 19 months apart, and having them changed my whole outlook on life. I was trying to juggle 12 hour shifts, 20 miles from where I lived in a Newcastle hospital, on nights, and it was a stressful time. I couldn’t give one hundred per cent as a mum, and I was begrudging being at work. The other thing was, as I got more nursing experience, you very much just looked at how you could help patients physically and I found that many conditions were emotionally driven. Nursing was supposed to be holistic but, in the real world, holistic doesn’t even exist because there isn’t the time or resources. I’ve found that acupuncture is very much the full package, and the time you spend with the patient is very much about them.
“In my first nursing job, I was in a neo-natal ward and there was a fantastic group of staff. No one ever left, the morale was very high and the sister in charge was amazing. Even the surgeons and doctors, we were all one big team. I felt so lucky, irrespective of the hours and the shifts, although I didn’t have my children then. We moved into a new hospital though and everything got shook up; wards got changed, people left, managers changed and it became very different. By then I’d had my first child and was having to leave him for practically 48 hours for two nights a week. So, a mixture of changes in the NHS, in the hospital itself, and having my first baby changed everything.
“It just so happens I went for a meal with a friend who was having IVF and she started talking about acupuncture. She was inspiring and I was sitting there thinking ‘this sounds amazing’. I’d heard of acupuncture but didn’t understand it so I started doing some research. I found the NCA and went along to an intro day with my mum and I honestly just thought ‘I finally know what I want to do with my life’. It sounds corny but I really did get that ‘goose bump’ feeling listening to what acupuncture is, and how the College works. I said to my mum ‘I have to do this’. I knew it meant possibly leaving work, and three years of studying, but I knew I had to do it.
“I’d never lie and say doing the acupuncture course and training wasn’t hard. I had two young children, and the ward I was working on wouldn’t guarantee me the time off. If they needed me for a shift then my study would have to come second, which is why I started doing bank work while studying. During the first year, I was doing two night shifts a week, and commuting to York to go to College, and then there was the online study and the other bits of work. I was also a mum and housewife, and looking back now I think ‘how did I do it’! It was a tough juggling act but I kept the end goal in sight. There were times when I thought ‘this is too tough and I can’t do it’ but the alternative was going back to nursing where I was out of the house for 15 hours a day, and being more stressed. Any degree course is hard, but it was a tough qualification and you have to be determined and want to be an acupuncturist, to change your life and be your own boss.
“It’s been absolutely fantastic since graduating, and not how I thought it was going to be! Setting up a business has been tough because it wasn’t something I’d done before, but I was soon offered a locum job in an established clinic in Durham (http://www.renclinic.co.uk/) from someone who’d been there nine years. Initially this was just going to be for a couple of months but the person decided to leave and I took on all her clients. So, I’m doing that and it’s at the point now where I’m booked up weeks in advance. There’s also a local wellbeing gym who want me to do acupuncture and cupping for people with musculoskeletal problems, so I’m starting that at the end of this month. I also have quite a few home visits that I do for elderly people who don’t find it easy to come along to the clinic. So, I’m currently roughly working four full days, if not five days a week, but I fit it around my family now.
“I would definitely recommend becoming an acupuncturist to anyone who was in my position. When you’ve had enough of nursing, you’ve really had enough! It’s a hard job to drag yourself to every day. Being an acupuncturist is very different to nursing; you have to get out there and make it work for yourself. You will have doubts, but I thought ‘I’m going to do it’, and it’s about taking risks and having confidence.
“Work is great now, I’m busy and making a living from acupuncture. I went through the hard times because I knew the end result would be good. It was like the universe testing me, saying ‘how badly do you want this’ and I’m so pleased that I made the decision and stuck with it.”
https://gentle-touch-acupuncture.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/GTL-300x84.png00philhttps://gentle-touch-acupuncture.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/GTL-300x84.pngphil2017-08-04 11:57:512017-08-04 11:57:51Nurse Amanda doesn’t look back after becoming an acupuncturist