In Conversation With...nursing associate Grace Matanmi
This week we spoke to Grace Abosede Matanmi (known as Grace), who, after completing her nursing associate training, is now aiming to realise her dream of becoming a nurse.
It could have been very different – growing up Grace wanted to be an accountant after developing a love of figures thanks to her accountant uncle. She did the job for several before becoming bored – and a chance happening when lunching with a friend set her on the path to nursing.
Lives: In Dagenham with husband Ola, and children Enoch and Priscilla.
And: A chance happening on a lunch date with a friend led Grace into her career in healthcare - she was a chartered accountant before!
Tell us a bit more about your role at our Trust
I am a nursing associate based on our Clinical Diagnostic Unit (CDU). I’m one of the first faces our patients see when they come in for procedures like endoscopies. I get them ready and help with their procedure; reassuring them, making sure they’re comfortable throughout and supporting them as they recover.
I joined our Trust as a healthcare assistant in 2014 after working on our bank. I was on Harvest A before joining CDU.
I realised when I came here that healthcare was the right career for me, and I decided that I wanted to become a nurse. It was also around that time that bursaries changed, so I couldn’t have gone down the traditional route into nursing as I didn’t have £9,000 to spend on university. So the nursing associate programme gave me a second chance.
I found parts of it really challenging, but when we got onto drug calculations everyone was asking for my help because of my background in accounting. It was lots of fun making up questions to help them. I made friends for life during my training.
Going from accounting to the NHS is quite a change – tell us more….
I’d always wanted to be an accountant, right from a child. It was what my uncle did and I learned from him. I was working in the city but complained to my friend that I was bored.
Then we were having lunch when an elderly lady collapsed and we helped her. My friend, who is a carer, said I was really good at it and should work in healthcare.
I started doing shifts at her care agency and really liked it, so I left my job and did that full time.
After three months they made me the senior support worker and I was based in the office, which I didn’t like as I wanted to be out helping people, that’s what gives me joy. Then I heard about our bank and started doing shifts here.
It’s been a long road to get here and I’m really enjoying it. I feel very fulfilled. I loved accounting, but I get so much more satisfaction here. Every day patients come in and they are worried, I reassure them and they’re like a different person when they leave and I feel like I’ve done something important in someone’s life.
Your family must be proud at what you’ve achieved since changing career….
My mum, who has passed away, was a nurse. I have two sisters and none of us followed in her footsteps, until now.
I was talking to my dad about my career change and he said he always had a feeling one of us would end up in nursing, I asked why he never said anything earlier but he wanted us to find our own paths. He’s very proud.
My husband and children are very supportive, my daughter even made up a song for me, saying ‘mummy, you’re the best’, it was very funny.
My husband was so supportive during my training that he took over in the kitchen, and I’ve still not been able to get it back!
Have you had any memorable patients?
I was working on Christmas Day as a carer when I arrived early to one lady. I thought I might get in trouble if I went in before my time, but something told me I should.
When I did, I found her on the floor, she’d fallen the night before and couldn’t reach her buzzer or the phone to call for help. She was blue. We got her to Queen’s and she was fine – her family was so grateful.
As a carer I would get attached to my patients and found it very hard when they passed away. I feel differently at our hospital as with the care we give them, patients often get well enough to go home, and they’re so thankful for everything you do for them.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Meeting new people, and sharing our experiences. That can help to calm people down; I often tell my nervous patients that I was once an accountant and they can’t believe it. You gain so much when sharing stories together.
I also love that no two days here are the same. It’s wonderful. I have never regretted my decision to change careers.
What’s helped you to get on in your career at our Trust?
I’ve had great support and training here. I’m also inspired by the people, like the matrons and sisters who have worked their way up from a HCA.
If you show an interest in where you want to get to, people will support you.
When I went back to university to do my nursing associate training I told my children they had to grow up because mummy was going back to school!
What do you like doing when not at work?
Sleep! I also like reading biographies as I love to find out other people’s stories. I like to party, it’s a big thing for Africans! And I go to church.
I also enjoy writing, I have done since I was a child and my own children like it too. My son won a competition when he was part of a young writers’ group and had his work published – he won his school £1,000.