Why I Became a Nurse – Jim Head, ITU Senior Staff Nurse, Harefield Hospital

I’m a Senior Staff Nurse in the Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU) at Harefield Hospital, where I have worked for the past 22 years. I started my nursing career as a student nurse in 1997, training at Worcester University and Kidderminster Hospital.

In 2000, having completed my training, I arrived at my first job in the ITU at Harefield Hospital. My early career revolved around military and police roles, and I didn’t have any connections to nursing within my family either.

What motivated me to enter the nursing profession was an incident involving my little cousin, Daniel, who was more like my younger brother. Daniel was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy at 19 and deteriorated rapidly, to the point that he required a heart transplant within a year. Jim Head portrait

It all happened entirely out of the blue; none of us had previously heard about dilated cardiomyopathya heart muscle disease that usually starts in your heart’s main pumping chamber (left ventricle). Other people’s family members were having transplants, not ours.

Daniel was admitted to our local hospital as he was expected to die within the next 24 hours. However, the medical team informed the family that they had found a suitable heart and he would be blue-lighted from North Wales to Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester that very night. 

That was 26 years ago. He received his life-saving heart transplant. During his recovery, I became interested in watching the ITU nurses do their jobs, which inspired me to embark on a complete career change that I’ve continued for the past 25 years. 

Sadly, my little cousin passed away on April 25 this year. Although it has been an upsetting time, we expressed plenty of gratitude to the donor who allowed him a further 26 years of life by giving him the gift of a heart transplant. His donor enabled Daniel to grow from a teenager into a man, travel abroad, have a family of his own and live a full, happy life. 

The joy of seeing and helping other patients and their families through these life-changing moments and my amazing colleagues are my motivations for working in ITU and at Harefield Hospital. I’ve formed some great friendships there over many years.