“Every day is memorable, every day I learn something new. I get to use my natural compassion and caring - while working at the forefront of endoscopic practice.” - Viorica Voiculescu, Nurse Endoscopist
While many nurses choose to build a rewarding and varied career as a General Nurse, others choose to specialise - and with ever-developing technology, Endoscopy is a specialist field that is attracting a lot of interest. What’s more - an increasing number of Endoscopy Nurses are going on to become fully-fledged Nurse Endoscopists. So, what exactly is the difference between the two roles, how do you progress from one to the other - and why should you think about it? To find out more we talked with TTM Nurse Endoscopist Viorica Voiculescu who combines her compassion and love for people care with specialist skills and experience.
The Importance of Endoscopy
Endoscopy is a fast-growing medical specialism. With the world’s aging population and the rising prevalence of gastrointestinal disorders, Endoscopy is becoming both vital and technologically advanced in equal measure. TTM’s Endoscopy division is recognised as an industry leader, recruiting Endoscopy Nurses, Endoscopists, Consultant Gastroenterologists and Nurse Endoscopists. Viorica is one of our Nurse Endoscopists, combining her permanent NHS role at the Milton Keynes University Hospital, with Temporary weekend shifts with TTM.
“I Saw the Opportunity for Me”
Viorica qualified as a nurse in Romania in 1994 and worked as a theatre nurse. She made the move to the UK as there was far greater scope for her to specialise, and after working in a nursing home for four years, Viorica joined the NHS working as an Endoscopy Nurse.
“As an Endoscopy Nurse I was assisting doctors with procedures, but I also discovered the role of the Nurse Endoscopist who is qualified to perform their own procedures. There were very few female Nurse Endoscopists at this time - but I felt this was something I could do. I knew I could bring my natural compassion, calm and caring into a highly specialised, technical specialism.”
Becoming a Nurse Endoscopist
One of the doctors Viorica assisted recognised her potential and recommended that she train to be a Nurse Endoscopist, so she joined a team of three. After 12 months she qualified in Bowel Scope Screening which meant she could perform her own Flexible Sigmoidoscopies. Viorica then continued her studies by completing a Prescribing Course, allowing her to prescribe medication to patients.
“The NHS introduced the Bowel Cancer Screening Test for people over the age of 55, run by the Cancer Screening Programme - and I worked on this for a year. I undertook inhouse training so that I could also perform Colonoscopies. I worked with a medical doctor as my mentor and was given dedicated time for home studies. I was required to do 200 Colonoscopies, 90% of which had to be unassisted. After the course I was assessed and became qualified to perform Colonoscopies.”
Viorica admits to being quite nervous when she performed her first procedures without her trainer - but says she never felt alone. Throughout her learning journey Viorica has enjoyed the collaboration and support of colleagues and consultants, which has helped her grow and develop.
Viorica had a keen eye on what she wanted to achieve. She had a young family but an incredibly supportive husband, so was able to work hard to reach her dream. Over a period of three years, she moved from Band 6 to Band 8 Nursing, and then took a further year to complete training to perform Gastroscopies.
Viorica describes a highlight of her training as the course she completed to perform Small Bowel Capsule Endoscopies - where patients are given a pill-sized video camera to swallow. This six-month course saw Viorica learn how to study video from the camera, produce reports and recognise pathology.
“After this, I was the most senior person on my team and it made sense for me to do a Train the Colonoscopy Trainer course, so that I could help others follow my path. The qualification also helped me to grow my confidence in my teaching.”
Working with TTM
Viorica does Temporary shifts for TTM at a Mobile Endoscopy Unit in Leicester - which she says is ‘absolutely wonderful.’
“I honestly work with the best people. We’re a small team and we support each other all the way. It’s just so comfortable and works well.”
Viorica loves working with her TTM consultant Claudia Faraoni. Claudia understands her needs, lets her set the pace, and is ALWAYS available to help and support.
“Claudia is brilliant. There has never been a time when she wasn’t there to help. She is truly dedicated to what she does, and nothing is too much trouble.”
A Day in the Life
Each day Viorica will see between five and six patients which represents eight to ten points on a list, working from 8.30 to 1pm. Planning is an important part of her day, and she takes time to identify her team and any issues with her list or her patients. Patient and staff safety is paramount. Even after all her years of working and learning, Viorica still finds what she does fulfilling and rewarding:
“I’m learning every day and I thrive on that. Sometimes a thank you from a patient is all it takes to make my day - or to hear that the procedure was so much better than they thought it would be. Some patients come for a procedure having had a CT scan which has picked up something that could be abnormal. My job is to reach the identified site, and when I can tell a patient that there is nothing there and nothing to worry about - it’s the absolute best reward.”
Want to know more about Nursing or Endoscopy with TTM? Find out about opportunities here.