Sofie, Principal Educator, Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection (ARHAI), NHS Education for Scotland

My name is Sofie and I'm a principal educator (ARHAI) at NHS Education for Scotland. I work with colleagues in NHSScotland Boards, and others working in health and social care to design education and training for infection prevention and control.

What did you first do when you left school?

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I left school, so I decided to do a ‘gap year’ where I would work to save money and figure out my next steps. I got a job in a local department store in my hometown. I met a woman whilst working there, whose daughter worked in the NHS as a Nurse. I used to look forward to her coming in to hear about her work. About 6 months after working there, I decided to apply to the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) for the Adult Nursing Programme.

What attracted you to working in the NHS?

Unfortunately, I spent some time in hospital when I was younger, but it gave me some insight into the work that nurses do. I also liked the idea of working in a profession where you could very quickly see the work you are doing is making a difference to people’s health and wellbeing. Hearing about my colleague's daughter's job really cemented how I felt and spurred me on to apply for nursing.

How did you get started?

I applied to study Adult Nursing at UWS which was a 3-year BSc programme. Following this, I worked as a staff nurse in the Intensive Care Unit in a hospital. I was interested in Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) so left ICU to work in the IPC Team.

Since then I’ve completed a masters in IPC and worked in 3 different Health Boards across Scotland at a Senior level in IPC. Recently, I worked in Health Protection Scotland as a senior infection control nurse and was part of the COVID-19 National Response Team.

I’ve always had a passion for creating and delivering education and training. So, when an opportunity came up to join NHS Education for Scotland (NES) as a principal educator for ARHAI, I jumped at the chance! I had worked with NES in the past, creating some educational materials for them and presenting at some training events.

Describe your day-to-day role.

I’m currently working remotely and my day-to-day role varies, depending on the activities I’m working on. Some duties include:

  • working with staff in NHS Boards and health and social care to design education and training for IPC
  • reviewing and updating our current educational materials
  • planning education and training events
  • providing expert IPC and educational advice

What skills are the most important for you to do your job well?

Good communication is very important as we work with multiple organisations, all of which have different needs. A creative mind! Often, we are exploring new and innovative educational ideas, so it’s important we can share our ideas and try new technology to help deliver education and training.

A passion and enthusiasm for education and training. You really need to love what you do when you deliver training, as it makes the experience enjoyable and fun.

What advice would you give a school leaver thinking about working in the NHS?

The NHS is incredible. There are so many different careers and opportunities out there. When I was a student nurse, I didn’t even know my current job existed! As an organisation dedicated to helping people, you’ll work hard, but it’s very rewarding. If you know anyone in the NHS, talk to them and ask about their experiences, that’s how I learned more about the role of a nurse and it encouraged me to apply.

Tell us what makes you proud to be a key worker during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant we’ve needed to react quickly as the situation evolved daily, sometimes hourly.

In my previous role, I was also worked at the NHS Louisa Jordan to help with getting the hospital ready from an IPC perspective. There, I experienced the immense pressure staff were under but also felt such a sense of pride at the teamwork and what was achieved in those 3 weeks of ‘building a hospital’.

I’m proud to be a key worker because the work that everyone has done has been phenomenal. In NES, you don’t just have to support staff with education and training around managing COVID. You need to make sure they have all the appropriate skills, education, and training to do their day-to-day job too, as other infections are still around!

Our materials are also available for students, so it’s important they feel well equipped when they enter the workplace. Keeping our resources up to date has been essential during this time.