Neurology Central

International Nurses Day: a day in the life of Ismalia de Sousa

To mark International Nurses Day this month (12 May), we’re asking neuroscience nurses from across the field to share their typical working days, what inspired them to become a nurse and the challenges that are present in the field.
In this interview, we speak to Ismalia de Sousa, a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) in stroke in a London NHS hospital (UK). Ismalia qualified in Portugal as a general nurse back in 2009 and moved to London in the same year, where she started working as a staff nurse in a newly opened hyper-acute stroke unit (HASU). Whilst working as a band 5 staff nurse, she occasionally worked as a bank nurse in surgical wards. In 2013, Ismalia progressed to a CNS role as a band 6 and then progressed to band 7 a year afterwards.

How did your education and training lead to your interest in becoming a CNS in the stroke field?

When I qualified as a registered nurse I always knew I wanted to work in a busy and fast-paced unit where I could also see a degree of improvement in the patient’s condition with the care delivered. One of my three job interviews in London in 2009 was for a surgical ward. Whilst a student nurse, I had really enjoyed my clinical placements in surgery. However, I quite liked the idea of being part of something that was new and was being developed. The location was also a contributing factor at 21 years of age when you want to ensure that you enjoy your social life in London.

There was a big investment in stroke care in London at that time so I thought, why not? When I started working in the HASU I absolutely fell in love with neuroscience. The fact that not every person with a stroke is the same, as not every stroke is the same, but also the improvement that treatments such as a thrombolysis could have on patient outcomes was fascinating.

I started to have a keen interest in brain anatomy and in developing the ability to diagnose patients based on the symptoms they were presenting to hospital. I would then match those symptoms with the location in the brain and the arteries that were supplying those areas.

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