GEMMA Finch was motivated to qualify as a registered staff nurse because she knew it would make her grandfather proud.

The 24-year-old, from Colchester, never quite believed she could do it – until she qualified two years ago.

She says: “I remember being told I had got the job as a staff nurse at Colchester General Hospital. It was so unreal, but exciting at the same time.”

She wanted to work in the cardiac oncology or elderly ward and was granted her wish to work with the elderly.

She says: “As a student nurse you are in a safety net, but when you qualify you have patients you are responsible for and I found that overwhelming. It was so scary, but there was support from the education champion at the hospital.”

Gemma wanted to offer the elderly the same level of care her own grandfather had received from her family before he died. 

She says: “He died while I was in my first year at Anglia Ruskin University.

“He died at home, having been looked after at home and he told me he was so proud of me. I knew then I wanted to care for the dying. I want people to have the same care my grandad received.”

Gemma, who is leaving Colchester Hospital to work with St Helena Hospice, developed a range of vital skills and experience working at Colchester General Hospital.

Her job involved tailoring the care to meet individual patients’ needs, from helping them wash, eat, drink, working with social workers, administering medication.

She says: “Sometimes there is nothing you can do but make someone comfortable.

“To be a nurse you have to be extremely patient, kind and caring – but also ambitious and really want the job. If you are not positive in your job it won’t work as it’s very stressful.

“You have to be able to work under pressure, adapt to different people and situation, be a likeable person and trustworthy, after all, patients are trusting you to look after them properly.”

Working as part of a team is also vital, says Gemma.