Niamh Whelan is a ward manager for Rays of Sunshine Ward, which is where children who have liver and small bowel transplants are cared for.
She has worked at King’s for four years, but has been in London since 2007 – having started her paediatric nursing training here with City University.
“I started my career in social care in Ireland, working with young adults with learning disabilities,” said Niamh. “However, there weren’t too many opportunities to progress and I really enjoyed the medical aspect of the social care so I decided to make the move to nursing. I had a real interest in paediatric nursing and in the UK you can specialise in paediatrics right from the start – so that’s why I decided to come here. The UK also recognised my social care qualification so I only had to complete a two-year post-graduate nursing course.”
Niamh says that she chose to study and work in London after considering a number of different cities in the UK.
“There are a wealth of opportunities in our profession and especially in London,” she said. “In smaller cities and towns people tend to stay in the same job a long time and you can be waiting a long time for a job to become available. In London the population is more transient and people move jobs a lot so there are always opportunities to progress.
“The other really huge thing is the diversity of the people you work with. There are so many people from different places. Just today, we had a meeting with people from Canada, from Taiwan, from the Philippines. It’s great to meet so many different people with interesting backgrounds, but who all have the same passion for their jobs.”
Because staff over move about a lot, teams like Niamh’s are always ready to welcome new faces. “When you work in a hospital, it’s like having a family,” she added. “Everyone wants to be sociable and ready to make friends and London is somewhere that everyone accepts you for who you are.
“Living in the capital is exciting - I love it as a city, it’s such a melting pot. You can eat out cheaply in so many different kinds of places and because it’s a great travel hub you can get to other places like Paris easily - I can also get home to Dublin whenever I need to.”