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Year of the Nurse and the Midwife - Meet Divine

Year of the Nurse and the Midwife - Meet Divine

Date of release: 31 January 2020

2020 is the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife and we’re celebrating the occasion with spotlights on some of our own staff members!

Latest News: Year of the Nurse and the Midwife – Meet Divine!

Each month we’ll be talking to one midwife and one nurse – chatting about their career and what they love most about their role.

Say hello to our first nurse - Divine Cooper, Senior Sister on Ward A6 (Trauma & Orthopaedic) at New Cross Hospital.

Divine has a wealth of experience in nursing, having progressed from Staff Nurse to Head Nurse at a university hospital in the Philippines, to five years a Theatre Nurse in Saudi Arabia, which despite being a step back in pay, was important for Divine as it meant a chance to experience another side of nursing and to widen her skillset.

This was however a particularly challenging period for Divine (1985-1990), as she recalls the discrimination she experienced as an Asian nurse.

“I was disregarded by many of my colleagues and was made to feel inferior against my white, British and Egyptian peers. So me being me, I went up to this one Egyptian anaesthetist who was giving me a hard time and told him to stop being so rude and abusive. He couldn’t believe I had challenged him and I think it shocked him.

“From then on I was able to gain the respect of my colleagues because they knew I wouldn’t accept that kind of behaviour – I was there to care for my patients, not to be demoralised by other members of staff!

“All I can say is, whether it’s inappropriate behaviour or bad practice - you are professionals and you should always challenge when you’re not sure about something or have concerns. It means you care about what’s right, fair and decent.

“I’m proud to say that the staff on my ward, and across the Trust, are really friendly and appreciative of my work, regardless of my background!”

And since her move back to England in 1990, escaping the conflict of the Gulf War, Divine has worked in a number of nursing roles, primarily at Maidstone Hospital. This was before she made the move to The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust in 2012.

The mum of 5 wonderful children and a grandmother of 7 gorgeous grandchildren worked as a sister on the hospital’s Renal Ward, before working her way up to current, more senior role - all within 3 years.

“The staff on Ward A6 made me feel incredibly welcome and we’ve been a family ever since; they are simply brilliant.

“I see my role as having two groups of people to look after – the patients and the staff. If I don’t have happy staff then I won’t have happy patients. The staff need to feel looked after and the resources need to be in place to help them do their job.”

While in post, staff retention has improved and there’s been a reduction in staff sickness and job vacancies, with Divine having consciously supported those off ill and been actively involved in the recruitment of overseas nurses. 

Reflecting on the more challenging aspects of the role she explained: “Trauma & Orthopaedic is a tough area because it’s mostly elderly patients who have other medical conditions.

“They come in with a broken arm or leg but they’ve often got other care needs that need treating. But with the support of my team, we’re able to deliver the quality care they deserve.”

And as the years have passed, she remarks a big change in her day-to-day tasks.

“There’s a lot more paper work and a bigger focus on audits. It means less time on the front-line for me but such audits are important to make sure we improve our services and that we can learn from our mistakes.

“As a manager you’re expected to do admin on top of the clinical work, but I make sure I sit in handover every morning to make sure I know what’s going on with the patients, as that’s the only way I can ensure my team are supported to work to a high standard.”

And if her career wasn’t colourful enough, the 62-year-old has been a Royal College of Nursing Steward for the past 10 years – helping to promote workplace employment rights fair treatment of nurses prior to coming to RWT.

When asked what she was most proud of in her role she had a number of achievements to choose from including their gold standard medical device training in March 2018, a 57% reduction in falls back in September 2019 and the ward’s recent contribution to a national evaluation of elective hip and knee services - carried out by National Institute of Health Research.

Well Divine, you’ve certainly committed a lot of your energy and enthusiasm to making RWT a great place to receive care and to work for! Thanks for your hard work!

A Teaching Trust of the University of Birmingham