‘Nursing is all about mentoring’

Matron Caroline Cassels on pursuing a career in nursing and why women supporting women is what it's all about

Matron Caroline Cassels on pursuing a career in nursing and why women supporting women is what it’s all about.

It wasn’t a career she intended on, but Caroline has been a matron at King Edward VII’s Hospital for the last 17 years, managing a work force of 135.

Caroline started her professional life as a staff nurse 27 years ago, after her mother encouraged her to move to London and pursue a career in healthcare. At first Caroline found it very competitive, ‘You had to achieve certain grades and the interview process was rigorous.’ She even came close to leaving it all behind in her third year, but was encouraged by a ward sister to stay on.

‘It’s not uncommon for student nurses to feel like giving up in their 3rd year. But my ward sister was amazing. She could see how I was feeling and through one to one sessions and wonderful encouragement, she gave me back my passion for nursing. It was really important to have her there as a mentor.’

‘Training was very hands on,’ says Caroline. ‘ You learn as you go and you are always putting your knowledge into practice. I remember the first time I had to do an injection I almost passed out!’ She tries to retain that very hands on approach even now as matron by making sure she is in constant contact with patients.

‘Every day tends to be different. You meet new people and you come across different problems and situations. You have to be personable and willing to talk a lot,’ says Caroline. ‘You’re meeting strangers every day of the week, many who aren’t very well, so you need to be empathetic.’

The work can be stressful – and emotional – at times. ‘But if I ever felt too detached, I would stop. There are several time that I have cried over a patient and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s rewarding seeing people get better; it’s what nursing is all about.’

Now, she’s keen to pass on her passion. ‘I take mentoring very seriously and gain huge satisfaction through watching staff grow. It is vital to spend good quality one to one time, give advice, encouragement and criticism if it is needed.’

And her tips for the top? ‘Be prepared to keep your head down and keep an open mind about everything. It’s important to keep focused, achieve good grades and also get as much work experience as possible.

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