We had the pleasure of sitting down with Amanda Armoogum- an orthopaedic trauma nurse coordinator in a major trauma centre at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. Even though we met her half way through her long working day at the end of the week, she is radiating with energy and all smiles.
How are you Amanda?
Fine, thank you.
How has the past year been for you?
I think for everybody it has been really hard because since March of last year it’s been on the go, we had to adapt many things differently. As an example, now, for all the patients that come from home, a covid test is a mandatory requirement prior to surgery. When covid happened, we had to work on the wards and help the nurses out and do much more than our role required. So including our role, we had to help on the wards, we had to help out at Charing Cross too, a lot more that we had to cover, but that was fine, says Amanda, we work as a team, and teamwork has really helped us through.
A bit of a different ice breaker now, if you could tell your 18 year old self, who was choosing her career path, what would it be?
I think if I did anything differently, I would definitely travel a lot more, and take a year out. I would probably work in another country too, I would love to have done that!
And did you decide that you wanted to do nursing when you were younger too?
Yes, my parents were nurses and mostly all of my family is from a nursing background, so I’ve always wanted to look after people. When I was 18 I went to work as a volunteer at a hospital and then I did my nursing when I was 20- but this was always something that I’ve wanted to do.
Do you have any advice to anyone who is thinking about getting into nursing?
I think this definitely is a good job and it’s hard work, you always have to adapt and ask questions and learn. I am always learning and still asking my colleagues if I am not sure about something. Teamwork and communication are also essential. Overall though, it’s a good job to be in, I really do love it.
So you are a trauma coordinator.. What made you choose that role and how is that different from nursing?
So, I qualified in 2005 and I worked in Essex in Broomfield Hospital and I wanted a change and to move to London and I saw St Mary’s as an opportunity to come to London and I wanted something different and to learn more. I have never worked in London before. I got a job on the orthopaedic nurse ward and I worked my way up, then I went to be a ward sister for a couple of years. There has never been a trauma coordinator here at the Trust and in 2013 I got approached by one of the orthopaedic consultants, I was hesitant at first, on my first day I had no idea what to do and what the role entailed, but I have adapted over the years and it has changed quite a bit. I work with about 20 consultants trying to organise patients and appointments. Working with a number of teams like plastics and neurologists- it’s a lot and I think people don’t quite understand the role itself, but I think I have made the role my own and adapted it a lot as I had nothing to go by, there is no playbook for being a trauma coordinator. I think when you are making your role, you get to do so much more. I never knew people from other departments before like the theatres, anaesthetists, I wasn’t that close to the consultants or registrars as I am now, so you build this great relationship with all the staff, because they trust in you to do your job and make sure that the patients are ready for their surgery. We have lists running 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
So you are the one that keeps everything together, the heart of the team that keeps it all going?
Yeah, it’s a good job to be in.
And do you enjoy it?
Yes, I love it, I’ve been in the role for so long now.
What facilitates your role and makes you the best at your job? What helps the most with your daily tasks?
I think making sure that patients are aware of what’s going on as we are the middle person between the patient and consultant. Communication is key between the patients and all the team members- it should be seamless.
What changes do you hope to see in 10 years?
I hope to see that there will be more trauma coordinators throughout the UK, as I only know a handful, I think they are only mostly in major trauma centres. And I think they should be in small hospitals as well because they work really well with the consultants and they can take majority of what the registrars do and coordinate all the tasks that need to be done. I think there should be more teaching for trauma coordinators too, more learning outcomes that we could do. Also, to define our role, I think we should be more clinical as well, because we train as nurses, but now the nursing aspect of it is gone, even though people do not see us like that. Sometimes I wish we did a little bit more clinical, so we can maintain the nursing aspect of it.
In terms of the future, as you know, with all the benefits of digital transformation, from a nursing point of view, how do you think this is going to impact you?
I think it’s good, everyone is going to have to adapt to new things now since covid, so on the ward now we do everything on digital systems like eTrauma and I think it’s a good system to use. We don’t do anything handwritten anymore, except for the consent forms and everybody has adapted to that way of working.
And does this make your job easier at the end of the day?
I think yes, definitely.
What change would you like to see that will make your job easier?
A bit more recognition of what we do. I think nurses in general do not get enough of it.
Especially before covid, right?
Exactly, people took it for granted. We do work really hard and even though people see it a little bit more now.
When times get tough, who inspires you to keep going?
I think it’s my team. During the tough times, we are all always looking out for each other. Everyone deals with tough times differently, and for us, we were in it together. Valentine Ellis is a good ward, I have been with them for 13 years now.
Are there any stories that you can share that you think make your job rewarding?
As an orthopaedic team, we have seen a lot of things such as the casualties from the London bombings, the Grenfell Towers and many others- I have never worked in that situation before and we had to work hard, which was rewarding in a way because we were helping people through very tough times. And obviously covid, it was so unknown and strange going to work in March, we had to stay in hotels at the time to protect our families- that was difficult too.
Final question, if you could make one wish, what would be the one change you would want to see?
That’s a good question…probably to make people understand what we do. Right now it feels like a hidden thing, not a lot of people know what we do and I would like a bit more understanding from everywhere. It’s also nice to have a connection with other trauma coordinators too as we have never actually met, so there is no community of us as there are so few of us out there.
Well that’s a fantastic wish, as we are actually planning to get all the trauma coordinators together once the restrictions are lifted and it is safe to do so!
That’s amazing, count me in, I will be there!
As we part ways, Amanda tells me that her plans for the coming weekend are walking to over a 100 different locations across London for the ‘Captain Tom 100 Challenge’ for charity- an activity that she organised for her whole team at the hospital to do in order to celebrate Captain Sir Tom Moore’s 101st Birthday. What a remarkable lady she is!
We would like to say a huge thank you to Amanda Armoogum for taking the time out of her extremely busy day to speak to us, as well all the nurses in the UK and across the globe for the exceptional work that they do inside and outside the hospital walls. We appreciate you!