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Be inspired: Roxana Whiteman

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Be inspired: Roxana Whiteman

Thursday 03 December 2020

Roxana Whiteman started her nursing degree at the age of 35. After graduating she worked as a staff nurse in the emergency department at Northern General Hospital, before moving to her current role with Yorkshire Ambulance Service, carrying out telephone triage for NHS 111.

Describe a typical day in your job.

As a senior clinical advisor for NHS 111, I assess the needs of the patients that call us and determine the most appropriate course of action. I focus on a single patient at the time and offer them my full professional attention.

Each call is different – in one shift I can talk to people with concerns about their newborn baby, to others with mental health needs, I can offer advice on medication, or I can speak to someone who doesn’t know what to do as their loved one is in need of help and lonely at home.

What are your memories of studying at Sheffield Hallam?

I look back with a happy heart and a smile on my face. I genuinely had the best time of my life. I remember the adrenaline running through my veins before completing an assessment and finalising the referencing. And I remember the togetherness and the cohesion that the nursing course brought to my life. I made friends for life, and I gained a career that I love dearly.

What impact did Sheffield Hallam have on your career?

People have a great respect for Sheffield Hallam as being one of the best in the country for nursing. It gave me a very strong foundation with amazing transferable skills. The course covered every area – including the social, economic, demographic and cultural aspects of nursing.

How has the pandemic affected your work?

When the pandemic hit we worked extremely hard, and we still do. At NHS 111 we became ‘the national pride’ as one of my colleagues said. People were calling 111 as they needed to find out information about the virus.

When lockdown started I took my almost two-year-old son to his grandparents and I didn’t see him for over three weeks, as I was needed at work. He has spent so much time with his grandma he now calls her Mama. It hasn’t been easy, to say the least, but I keep on marching .

How do you look after your mental wellbeing when working in such a stressful job?

What I tend to do to stay sane is talk to my family. My husband is a very good listener, so I open up to him a lot. I talk to my son too, but trying to explain that mummy is a nurse is difficult – I tell him I love nursing like he loves dinosaurs.

I also talk to my colleagues – after all, I see them more than my family. I have also improved the services at work for when a patient is in a mental health crisis. Some of the calls we take are very challenging, so after the call we come together as a group to reflect. That has improved our health and wellbeing tremendously.


1. Be adaptable

Be open to a challenge, and don’t be hard on yourself. Learn how to adapt and you’ll overcome any situation.

2. Listen

Listening is an important skill for everyone. In my job, being an active listener can help you find the vital piece of information that can contribute to a patient’s recovery.

3. Be kind

Finally, be kind – to yourself and others. And chocolate and tea often make things better.

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