Story Series: Ray McGrath | Our blog

  1. Text Size:
  2. Contrast:

Trust Blog

The Maudsley Blog

Story Series: Ray McGrath

2020 is the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, a time to reflect on the skills, commitment and expert clinical care that nurses and midwives bring, and the impact they make on the lives of so many. Here Ray McGrath talks about his nursing career.

"I never imagined that I would work as a nurse. In fact, it wasn’t until my late 20s when it even became a consideration for me. At that time, I was working in a London pub, I enjoyed my work, and I lived from day-to-day with few concerns. Life changed suddenly when, in the space of two months, both my parents and my niece were all diagnosed with different types of cancer. After the initial shock of that news, and the subsequent adjustment to my new lifestyle travelling up and down the country to provide family members with care and support, I guess I started to consider my purpose in life and seek a ‘new direction’.

"Nursing began to interest me and stand out as a viable option for a few reasons. I was impressed by the compassion and care that nursing staff showed during my family’s treatment, I saw the important role of nurses first-hand, I recognised the potential of skills from my work in the pub that would be transferrable to a nursing role, and I have always enjoyed meeting new people and learning about their experiences – which I knew I would continue to do if I became a nurse!

"I also can’t neglect to say how much I was inspired by my best friend Will, who had transferred to SLaM a few years prior to work as a nurse. We talked a lot about the responsibility and privilege of nursing before I finally decided to apply to study. It was also from talking to Will that I decided mental health nursing might be the discipline I should follow. He helped me to register as a SLaM volunteer, and then I spent several months volunteering on an inpatient ward before I made my application to King's College London.

"(In case of interest…my family all recovered from their cancer….and Will is still a SLaM nurse and remains an inspiration!).

"SLaM was a great place to complete the practice element of my nurse training. The variety of services the Trust offers is unrivalled by anywhere else in this country, and I feel fortunate to have had such a rich yet rounded experience of learning. Once qualified, I initially applied for and started working on one of the wards where I had trained. Since then the opportunities for personal development have led me to apply for further roles within the Trust and remain a SLaM employee.

"Since relocating from Bristol in 2007 I have always lived in south east London, of which SLaM covers most areas. For me now, as a nurse, one of the benefits of living near where you work is that you also belong to the community you serve. I think that helps me to appreciate some of the additional issues people face when they require care. On a personal note, living near where I work also helps me to return promptly to my home once I finish for the day so that I can spend time with my family.

"It must be said, every day has been a learning experience and no two days have been the same!

"I have also been lucky to work with some fantastic colleagues. They have helped me to develop through their encouragement, assistance, mentoring, patience and by challenging instances when we could have done better. As a result, since registering as a nurse I have undertaken additional training, obtained further qualifications, participated in research, worked in several roles and I continue to look for opportunities to help me grow.

"Furthermore, in my current role at King’s Health Partners I often work across organisations, to learn and share developments in practice and to help design new, sometimes novel ways of working to promote the Mind & Body approach to healthcare.

"Despite the various roles I have held, I have always tried to remind myself why I am a nurse. I will always try to put my patients first, to keep care and compassion at the heart of any decisions, and remember the important impact a nurse has on the lives of those they care for. I’m confident that my nursing roles will change many times over in my career, but reminding myself of those reasons will hopefully help me to be the best I can be for others that might need me."

Global Banner