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Leaving the Emerald Isle behind

Orla Hillary, Intensive Care Nurse

Orla on…

Discovering health care

I really liked the idea of going into a health care profession. When I was living in Ireland I joined an Irish version of St John’s, doing basic first aid things,Orla Hillary and I knew from then that I really wanted to look after people. That was the first sign telling me that I wanted to get into nursing.  I have always found myself wanting to help and care for people, so I gave it a try. My dream career was to go into paramedics/air ambulance work. I was always quite drawn to high intensity work. But I wanted to see if a nursing career would suit me and I knew it would give me great skills and knowledge together if I eventually did move into paramedics.

Being supportive

Now I'm a critical care nurse. I had my final placement in an intensive care unit and I loved it so much that I stayed on there as a staff nurse. I saw how sick people were in ICU and it was (and is!) so rewarding to see them get better and go home. I love being able to help our critically ill patients. You can actively see how every treatment or care impacts the outcome or survival of the patients. As a nurse you are a huge support to families whose loved ones are critical and it's just a whole step up level of nursing.

Lasting memories

When I was a student nurse I met an incredible patient who was lovely, and had a lovely family. They came in thinking they just had a stomach bug but unknowingly had a huge cancerous tumour. They died only a few days later. I just remember everything about the patient and their family. How supportive they were to the patient, how despite having terrible news they remained positive and exceptionally lovely to all the staff. I bonded really well with this patient. I was really upset to hear the news when I arrived on shift and the bed they’d been in was empty, but I will always keep this patient in my mind and hope the family are doing well.

I feel like this episode made me really appreciate life. I live every day now as if it's my last. I travel every opportunity I can, help charity when I can, do “good deeds" randomly. We don't know how long we have and I never want to have any regrets.

New perspectives

Being a nurse in London is so special, especially for someone like me who is from a small part of a small county in Ireland. Since moving to London and working as a nurse I've met people from different cultures, religions, countries, some of which I didn't even know existed. Working in London is so varied and there are so many opportunities in nursing. You walk into work and have absolutely no idea what your day will entail.  I feel like there’s something new happening every day and I’m learning something new every day.


Orla Hillary RCN London member

Page last updated - 29/08/2018