Volunteering gave me the chance to find out what it’s really like working in the NHS

I’ve nearly finished my first year of a degree in Adult Nursing at Portsmouth University and am so glad I made this choice, though I could have gone down a very different route.

When I first started my A levels I was thinking of a career in engineering, but as time went on I became more interested in doing something in the medical field.

I wanted to get some experience to see if it’s something I’d enjoy, so I started volunteering with St John Ambulance. I helped out at events in Sussex providing immediate on the spot first aid but, when the first lockdown started and my A level exams were cancelled, I signed up to volunteer to help out in the emergency department at the Royal Sussex County Hospital.

It was my first time working in a hospital and was incredibly busy, but the support I got from both St John Ambulance and all the people working in A&E was brilliant.

I worked mainly 12-hour night shifts which took a bit of getting used to, but being part of such a great team made it much easier. I loved the work and learnt a huge amount getting really stuck in and helping out wherever I could.

Every shift was different and you never know who’s going to walk through the door next, so you’re always learning. It was great to work directly with all sorts of patients and knowing that you’ve helped them in some way – whether it’s taking observations, applying a dressing or just listening – is incredibly rewarding.

I enjoyed it so much that I decided to become a nurse and am now studying nursing at Portsmouth University.

I realised that I’m not the kind of person who can sit at a desk all day; doing nursing means I get lots of variety and am constantly learning and meeting different people. I’m also looking at where I may go in the future and as a nurse there are all sorts of opportunities.

Volunteering gave me the chance to find out what it’s really like working in the NHS. People often say how could I work doing long shifts for nothing, but it really wasn’t for nothing – for me it gave me a real purpose and sense of value and has helped me in deciding what I want to do.

I’m really grateful for being given the opportunity and would recommend anyone thinking of volunteering themselves to just go and do it – you won’t regret it!

Sam Moody

Sam Moody is a student nurse and St John Ambulance volunteer.