Stop-gap becomes the journey of a life-time for Jenni

Stop-gap becomes the journey of a life-time for Jenni
13 February 2017

Jenni Murdoch was the tender age of 17 when she joined Burton Hospitals as a Care Assistant.

It wasn’t supposed to be a long-term career prospect, just a stop-gap while she figured out what she really wanted to do with her life. Now, it’s almost 20 years later and Jenni has risen through the ranks to become a Senior Occupational Therapist at Queen’s Hospital.

It has been a labour of love for the mother-of-one but she says it was the best journey she could have taken.

Jenni, who lives with her partner and son in Stretton, said: “I feel incredibly lucky to have been given the opportunities that I have by the Trust. When I started as a Care Assistant I never dreamt that I would still be here nearly two decades later.

“The role gave me a valuable insight into the difference that I could make to people’s lives. It also gave me the ambition and the drive to want to achieve more, both for myself and for my patients.”

As part of her initial role Jenni helped with the personal care of patients - washing and delivering meals to them as well as taking them to the bathroom. Alongside her job, she completed an NVQ Level Two in Care, funded through and supported by Burton Hospitals.

Jenni explained: “Although I really enjoyed being a Care Assistant and got a real sense of satisfaction from the job, I started to think about how to progress my career and in which direction I should go.

“The natural next step for someone with my experience and qualifications was to train as a nurse so that’s exactly what I began to do. I broached the possibility with my managers and they were incredibly supportive, encouraging me to pursue my goal.

“However, not long after I began my training I realised that my heart wasn’t really in it and I felt that my patients deserved to be treated by someone who was truly passionate about working in that particular field. It was tough but I made the decision to go back to the drawing board and return to my role as a Care Assistant while I explored other options. I had been happy in that post and knew that I was making a difference, however small, to people’s lives.”

As fate would have it, it was back on ward eight, which had previously been the general medicine ward but was now where people who had suffered a stroke were cared for, that inspiration struck.

“I started to see Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists achieving some really positive, life-changing results with their stroke patients,” said Jenni. “Occupational Therapists don’t just look at the mind or body in isolation of one another, they do a holistic assessment and try to meet the entire spectrum of needs that each individual person has.

“It was while I was watching them carry out their work that I had a real moment of clarity and I knew without a shadow of doubt that Occupational Therapy was my vocation.”

To help further her career and build upon her existing knowledge and skills, Jenni sought help from her managers and the Trust’s learning and development department.

Once again they were 100 per cent behind her and she soon began working towards an NVQ Level Three in Diagnostic and Therapeutic Support, funded through the Trust.

It was thanks to the completion of this qualification that Jenni was able to climb the next rung on the career ladder and she became an Assistant Practitioner in 2005.

In 2008, the ambitious 36-year-old was ready to embark on a fresh challenge – a BSC Honours Degree in Occupational Therapy at Coventry University, paid for by the Strategic Health Authority and supported by Burton Hospitals.

Jenni went on to qualify as an Occupational Therapist in 2012. Thanks to the practical experience she gained while carrying out this role as well as the knowledge gathered during her degree, she was awarded a further promotion, this time to the post of Senior Occupational Therapist in 2014.

A winning combination of luck and hard work was on Jenni’s side and when the new frailty team was established, it had her name written all over it. She now works closely with older people and those who have suffered falls, helping them to quite literally get back on their feet.

Jenni, a former pupil of Rugeley’s Fair Oak High School, said of her achievements: “I couldn’t possibly have accomplished what I have if it hadn’t been for the support, advice and help of colleagues and managers at the Trust. It might sound corny but working here is like working alongside my family, we are all very close knit.

“A lot of people have a slightly negative opinion of what it is like to work for the NHS but I’m happy to say that my experience has been the complete opposite. I’m very proud to work for Burton Hospitals and have found the Trust in general and the teams that I have worked with in particular to be extremely supportive and positive.

“My story demonstrates that you can begin your NHS journey with no relevant qualifications or experience and, if you work hard and put patient care at the heart of everything you do, you really can achieve things you never thought possible."

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