60 seconds with...Karen Williamson | News from Whipps Cross Hospital

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60 seconds with...Karen Williamson

We spoke to Karen, Rowan Ward manager, about her role, recent highlights and being awarded Star of the Month. 


1. Can you tell us a bit more about your role?

For the past two years I have been a ward manager for a 29 bedded extremely busy and fast paced surgical unit. My main role and responsibilities as a manager are to maintain the safety of the ward and ensure positive patient experience, as well as manage and support my team.

I also participate and attend daily meetings, prevent and respond to complaints, patient experience, recruit staff, look after staff wellbeing, assist and encourage their career development.


2. What does a day/week normally looks like for you?

My day starts with my ward staff briefing, where concerns are shared and daily goals set, this is followed by the review of the roster and safe care to ensure appropriate skill mix in order to maintain patients and ward safety.   

This is followed by regular meeting and greeting of patients to ensure their needs and concerns are met. My week can be very unpredictable due to the need of supporting my staff around the ward rather than performing administrative work. However, when the ward is well staffed and safe, I am able to concentrate on my non-clinical work.


3. How long have you been at Whipps?

I have been working at Whipps Cross for the past 12 years, I started as a student nurse in 2008. My management placement which occurred at the end of final year 3 took place on  Rowan Ward. At the end of my degree in 2011, I successfully acquired a  registered nurse band 5 position on Rowan ward. From there on I gradually progressed my professional career to a Ward Manager band 7 position on Rowan Ward during the pandemic.


4. What do you enjoy the most about your job?

I enjoy the leadership role and surprise myself with my ability of managing a team through the pandemic. This was challenging and stressful at times due to staff rotation and need to support other wards and units to provide and ensure patient safety, it was a great achievement.

Secondly, successfully managing, mentoring and coaching a junior team, this achievement has been reflected via the feedback provided by our service users and staff. This accomplishment and patient satisfaction is what I stand for. Finally, witnessing my fabulous team who are supportive and respectful to each other being eager to use feedback and training to continue improving patient care is what I enjoy the most in my role.


5. Any highlights or proud moments from the past few months?

I have an amazing team on Rowan Ward, majority of the band 5 nurses on Rowan have been recruited by me during the pandemic when I was an acting ward manager. Considering how challenging things were at the time for both patients and medical staff, I am so proud to see how well they have developed into senior nurses. Two of the band 5 nurses that I had recruited during that time are now band 6 and that makes me feel so proud.

Rowan ward was also involved in responding to the flood in July 2021, we evacuated patients from the ward and transfer them to other wards and hospitals safely.  

The Wards that were involved received a special recognition award at the Barts Health Heroes Awards Ceremony, that was also a proud moment for me and my team.


6. How do you feel about being awarded the Star of the Month award?

Working for NHS, especially this Trust has been a dream come true. Providing safe and efficient patient care is at the forefront of my career and does give me huge satisfaction. However, I was very surprised to be the star of the month and was not expecting this at all. I must say I am very honoured, heartfelt, and feels very nice to know that my hard work and dedication not only to my patients but to my staff is acknowledged. I thank my hard-working supporting team who has also been on this journey with me, I could not have done it without them.