Date of release: 29 October 2021
We’re celebrating Black History Month 2021 by recognising one of our youngest staff members – 18-year-old Deborah Olusanya.
After deciding she wanted a career in medicine, she joined the Trust’s volunteers’ programme – hoping the experience of working in a healthcare setting would support with her university applications.
She said: “It was about getting exposure ahead of my course. I also wanted to do my bit to support the NHS during the highly pressured COVID-19 pandemic, especially as I could see on the news how stretched the clinicians were.”
Having started in September 2020, Debbie, who lives in Tipton, worked across several areas including the virtual COVID-19 ward (which remotely supported patients who were on oxygen at home) to the vaccination hub and the elderly care wards. These roles covered a range of duties from administration tasks to hand-on tasks such as bed-making..
“I think elderly care was my favourite because of the interaction with patients”, she said. “It wasn’t just about keeping them fed and watered; it was about keeping them company which was so important with visiting was restricted.
“The healthcare professionals are understandably busy and don’t always have the time to sit and chat, whereas the volunteers are there to have those personal conversations and to enhance the experience while in hospital. I loved hearing about the lives of the patients as it really opens your mind-set as to what people are going through and it makes you more empathetic. Seeing the smiles on the patients’ faces was truly the best thing about the programme.”
Inspired by her experience, Debbie went on to secure employment as a healthcare assistant (HCA) on the Trust’s Staffing Bank, meaning she could select shifts around her studies while undergoing her final year at school.
When asked why she made the move to a HCA she replied: “I really enjoyed my work as a volunteer but there were certain tasks that I wasn’t trained to support with – I wanted to do more and to be more hands-on.
“I spoke to the volunteering team and they supported me to stay on one ward for a fixed period so I could build relationships and gain enough experience so that my ward manager could provide a reference. I officially started my HCA role in August 2021 and I have more in the way of responsibilities. I’ve also gained essential skills such as how to read pulse rates, how to perform first aid and the moving and handling of patients.”
While focussing specifically on the Black History Month campaign and inclusivity across The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust (RWT), Debbie added that her ethnicity has never been an obstacle to success.
“RWT is a very diverse place and I’ve always felt respected and valued for my skills. I haven’t felt excluded in any sort of way – no second looks and no issues. It’s the same with age, I am quite young compared to my colleagues, but they’ve never made me feel as though I’m not capable. They’ve been so welcoming.”
The theme of this year’s campaign is ‘Proud to be’ to which Debbie stated: “I’m proud of what I’ve achieved – the young, black female who was able to further her career and progress in the NHS with the support from the Volunteering and Staffing Bank teams.”
She recently submitted her application to medical school and is waiting to hear back on next steps. Good luck Debbie!