Neurology Central

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

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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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