Stevenage nurses: ‘It’s incredibly rewarding in all sorts of different ways’

Staff nurse Darren Smith. Picture: East and North Herts NHS Trust.

Staff nurse Darren Smith. Picture: East and North Herts NHS Trust. - Credit: Archant

The nursing profession has long-endured many stereotypes – from being typecast as a female-only career, to nurses being belittled as wannabe doctors – but nothing could be further from the truth.

Consultant midwife Rose Bedford. Picture: East and North Herts NHS Trust.

Consultant midwife Rose Bedford. Picture: East and North Herts NHS Trust. - Credit: Archant

Take, for example, Darren Smith – a haemodialysis staff nurse at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital and the antithesis of these outdated stereotypes and mistruths.

Having worked in the postal service for 23 years, he decided to switch to healthcare and became a registered nurse.

Darren said: “In the postal service, I worked in every role, from delivering post to driving to management, but after a while I felt a bit brain-dead and knew I needed to learn something new.

“I saw apprenticeships being offered for care support workers at Lister Hospital and thought I would give it a whirl.

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“People told me I was making a big mistake – and would be taking a drop in pay, at least to begin with – but I took the risk and am very glad I did because it’s been very worthwhile and incredibly rewarding in all sorts of ways.”

Darren became a band two apprentice in the kidney dialysis team at Lister in 2011, aged 41.

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He worked his way up to band five in just six years and said: “I know this is unusual – I found out I was the first person in the NHS trust to have done this.”

In September last year, Darren achieved a first class flexible nursing degree and was shortlisted for Adult Student Nurse of the Year in the Student Nursing Times Awards.

The nursing profession is ever-changing and evolving, surging forward with new ideas, technology and research.

Rose Bedford has been a midwife for many years and is currently a consultant midwife at Lister, having been involved in designing and developing the midwifery-led birthing unit there.

She said: “Midwifery has changed significantly since I qualified. It is now much more education-focused, both in terms of working with colleagues on service innovation and research more generally, making it such an interesting time for those coming into the profession.

“There are currently so many exciting changes being made to the maternity services which will ensure the services we provide are even more geared to what women and their families have told us they want.”

To find out more about the East and North Herts NHS Trust’s current vacancies, visit

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