Why I Love My Job - ODP - Carly Belfield
Released on - 11/05/2021
I’m Carly Belfield and I’m an ODP in Obstetric & Gynae at Royal Preston Hospital. I’ve been qualified for 12 months and before this I worked in theatre as a Theatre Support Worker (TSW) for four years. I am an AfPP member and also a member of AfPP’s Student and Early Careers Specialist Interest Group (SIG).
I fell in love with theatres the day I started as a TSW. They are the secret part of the hospital – the place where no one knows what happens and those who come here can never remember! I love that by working collaboratively, as a team, we can make such a huge impact on a patient’s life by keeping them safe, being their advocate and being there when they need us most.
I’ve loved working as an ODP since the day I qualified, the opportunities that are open to me are endless and the department have been so supportive of my future aspirations and progression. Coming into work and seeing what a great team I work with and how we support each other is fantastic. We’re like a big family unit.
As an ODP in the obstetric and gynae theatre, I help to look after women in a range of ways, from major life saving six to eight-hour cancer cases to delivering babies and bringing a new life into the world, to saving a new mother’s life in emergencies. I feel so lucky to be part of a fantastic team that helps bring new life into the world and saves those who need us the most. Being the one they thank for helping them, even if it was just holding their hand whilst they drift off to sleep when they’re scared and anxious. This is worse for patients now because they can hardly see our faces in all the PPE. Something so small can make such a difference to a patient’s experience, especially during the traumatic and scary moments in labour.
We treat our patients in the same way as we’d like members of our families to be treated if they ever required surgery. Knowing we’ve had such an impact on a patient’s life is rewarding and satisfying.
Working during the Covid pandemic has been really challenging though and it has had a massive impact on our department. We’re only a small unit with three theatres so when staff were shielding and sickness levels increased, the department needed to rely on agency and overtime to help with the numbers.
Fortunately for me, my supernumery status was there for as long as was needed and the support for newly qualified staff has been fantastic. Our manager has an open-door approach and this has really helped morale in the department. Some members of the team were redeployed to ICU for four weeks at a time. They were asked to volunteer beforehand as some had more experience than others and didn’t mind the change. I went for just half a day and came back to my department hoping I’d never go again. As a newly qualified ODP I didn’t feel comfortable with supporting the Covid patients.
One of our biggest challenges now is the number of women who have conceived during the lockdown! This doesn’t just mean there are more babies to help come into the world, sadly it also means more pregnancy losses and emergency gynae cases due to surgical management of miscarriages or diagnostic laparoscopic cases for ectopic pregnancies. There is also an increase of elective caesarean sections and, if these are complex, they can overrun into the afternoon list. All these things impact the elective lists by creating more cancellations for those who have isolated for 14 days prior to surgery.
I also worry that some staff may get a bit relaxed with the PPE guidance as they begin to feel it’s not as important for ‘non-elective green’ cases – patients who have had a negative swab but haven’t self-isolated. However, this is audited and monitored so we can try and ensure everyone uses the guidance to protect themselves as well as the patient.
To anyone starting out as an ODP or a theatre nurse I say stick with it! Have faith in yourself and dream big!
The grass will be greener on the other side and remember, pain is temporary! That final push of exams and essays alongside placement is mentally and physically draining, but you’re nearly there! The satisfaction of being independent and aware of your knowledge and skills is greater than I could ever have imagined. I knew it would be hard and I knew this time would pass. Throw a pandemic in and its 10 times harder! But here I am, a year on and I’ve developed so many skills and the opportunities for training are endless.