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Student nurse inspired by her own experiences as a patient

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Published on 31 January 2022

(L-R) Nicola Peat, Tammy Manczak, Shannon Clark
(L-R) Nicola Peat, Tammy Manczak, Shannon Clark

A University of Sunderland student nurse, who has set her eyes on a career in surgery, is learning on the job from the team who helped inspire her dream when she was a patient.

Tammy Manczak was treated in South Tyneside District Hospital seven years ago when she underwent an operation following a flare up of Crohn’s Disease.

Now the 34-year-old, from South Shields, is in the third year of her Adult Nursing BSc (Hons) degree and is on placement with South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.

She has previously spent time with the Trust’s older people’s care team, at Sunderland Eye Infirmary with its own surgery team, on Sunderland Royal Hospital’s Phoenix Unit, which is an oncology day unit, and with Bunny Hill Primary Care Centre’s dermatology service.

But when it came seeking a placement in the area she wants to work in, she pushed to visit South Tyneside District Hospital’s Surgical Centre.

Staff now mentoring her are among the team who treated Tammy back in 2015, when she spent three weeks in their care.

Tammy, who will be on the ward until the start of March, said: “I always wanted to be a nurse and I never had the courage to think surgical nursing was for me, but I had a think about it and thought life is too short, go for it, and I’m so glad I have.

“It’s what I want to do and I’ve had a great time learning on the ward so far.

“I do recognise some faces from when I was a patient and it’s been so great to spend time with them and find out more about the job I really want to do.”

She has been mentored by Staff Nurse Shannon Clark, who was among those to care for Tammy when she underwent her procedure.

Melanie Johnson, the Trust’s Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals, said: “We are very proud of the work we do to support our student nurses through their studies. They make a valuable contribution to the Trust and it’s important that we invest in them as they set out in the NHS careers.

“It is heart-warming to hear that Tammy’s experiences on one of our own wards set her on the path to helping others and wonderful to know she is already learning so much and enjoying her time with our excellent team at the Surgical Centre.”

Nicola Peat, the ward’s manager, added: “We have been so happy to see Tammy here as a student and hearing that it was her experience with us as a patient which inspired her to become a nurse.

“She works really hard and always with a smile. She is a valued member of the team and we look forward to seeing her career with the Trust progress.”