Spotlight on: Penny Gee, newly-qualified nurse, Cromer Hospital

To tie in with Wednesday’s  recruitment event for newly-qualified nurses, Penny Gee, 58, who began her role in Cromer Hospital’s Allies Eye Clinic three months ago after graduating from UEA, tells her story.

On Wednesday (8 February) the event will be opened by Prof Nancy Fontaine, Chief Nurse, who will be joined by clinical educators, ward managers and matrons. There will be a Q&A session and information about the Preceptorship programme. Several departments will also be manning stands in the East Atrium and departmental tours of clinical areas will also be arranged.

Penny came to nursing later in life, having had successful careers in journalism and education, and  supports the team that treats adult patients with a variety of different eye issues.

Penny brings a particular skillset to the team, including specialist training in communicating with people with dementia, learning disabilities and autism plus a range of mental health conditions.

“I never realised how many different eye conditions there were,” she said.

“It is highly complex, ranging from patients with age-related sight issues, glaucoma, cataracts and retinal conditions. We see a lot of older patients from across Norfolk. I have recently been made a Dementia Link Nurse along with another colleague, which I’m extremely happy about.

“I think it’s important to be able to use your skills, which helps to make a more diverse team able to offer a varied service for our patients.

“I am absolutely where I want to be. I love it. The staff are great and the patients are just lovely.

“I was interviewed by Sister Helen Groom who leads the unit and Matron Anita Martins who leads Cromer Hospital, both with an absolute passion for making a difference in North Norfolk. The support they have given me has been excellent and it has made me feel valued from day one. My colleagues within the team have been amazing and have given me a lot of guidance.”

Penny decided to go into nursing after her two children went off to university. Having had experience working within the education sector with children with autism, she decided to specialise in this area.

“As a mother your world rather revolves around your children and with them both going away, I wondered what I should do next that would give me a new challenge and be rewarding,” she said.

“My second career was in education as a teaching assistant. I rose to Higher Teaching Assistant, teaching children who needed help with maths and English. I later went on to work in a school for children with autism.

“I did my first degree when I was 18  in Broadcast Journalism. I later worked for ITN and the BBC. My BSc in Nursing was very different. Academically, the course was challenging. Writing my dissertation was my ‘brain training’.

“I did my first degree when I was 18  in Broadcast Journalism. I later worked for ITN and the BBC. My BSc in Nursing was very different. Academically, the course was challenging. Writing my dissertation was my ‘brain training’.

“If you said to me five years ago: ‘Pen, you are going to do a science degree’ I certainly would not have seen that coming. I do like to give myself a challenge because I believe if you do this then you can see what you are made of.

“As well as my academic, training and employment experiences I also bring life experience to this role which I believe is just as important, as when you are older there is so much to draw upon.

“You do need a little courage too. I really like a quote I heard in my daughter’s favourite film – the live action Cinderella: ‘have courage and be kind’. I rather like that. If you can hold on to that it will take you quite a long way. It’s never too late to learn something new no matter what age you are. Give it a try!”

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