From the RAF to the NHS

As part of Armed Forces week in June, Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust ran a feature about staff who have come to work at the Trust having previously been in the Services.

Tom Stokes, a nurse in the Emergency Department, served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) before beginning his nurse training. In was Tom’s time in the forces, working alongside the MERT (Medical Emergency Response Team), that made him consider a career change.

Tom explains, “I went to Afghanistan in 2009 for a six-month tour as part of my RAF regiment. We had a bit of a mixed tour with a force protection role which we did on a two week rotation – that could be anything from patrolling the villages to patrolling outside of Camp Bastion but we also had the rotation with the MERT team during which we provided force protection for the medical staff on the back of the chinooks when they picked up injured soldiers. In real terms you were only on the ground for a minute – so back in the air you would try and help the medics where you could.

“It was interesting with the medical emergency team and, having no experience of anything medical it was so intriguing. I think part of processing the trauma side is wanting to know why we did things the way we did and how to deal with it – it was a massive part of why I wanted to do nursing.

“Being in the RAF taught me a lot about life. I joined at 18 with no experience, communication or life skills. I didn’t appreciate until I left the forces just how much it had changed me and developed me as a person, but it definitely stood me in good stead in my nursing career”.