Leah Callighan, 29, is a ward manager at Bradford Royal Infirmary. Leah first joined the Trust 11 years ago as an apprentice before going on to qualify as a nurse and working her way up.
“I joined the NHS when I was 17 years old, when I had no idea what I really wanted to do.
“My first job was as a receptionist in the Training department, where I passed my NVQ level II and III.
“But I felt it was a waste that I was working in a hospital yet I’d never cast eyes on a patient. So I joined the Temporary Nurse Register as a healthcare assistant. The benefits were a little bit of extra money and I wanted to see what it was like on the wards.
“I had my first shift when I was 19. I felt incredibly nervous and anxious about doing a 7.30-8pm shift and wondered how I was going to do it.
“I shadowed someone and it was actually one of the most amazing days of my life – I absolutely loved it!
“It was so different and you got out and met people. It was nice to be able to help people, get them looking a little bit more together and make sure they were well looked after. And the shift absolutely flew!
“I remember my Dad coming to pick me up and I said that I wanted to do the job full-time. I left within the month to work as a HCA and continued on the TNR.
“I worked within all the different specialities and got a sense of what I wanted to do and it was to work on one of the surgery wards.”
Leah then decided to enter nursing and, in 2010, was accepted onto a degree course at the University of Bradford. However, she remained on the TNR as a HCA, allowing her to work selected shifts throughout the three-year course.
“I started my nurse training in September 2010. After graduating I worked as a staff nurse on the plastic surgery/maxillofacial ward for about a year. Then I moved to Infectious Diseases as a staff nurse for two-to-three months before becoming a junior sister on ward 24 – Infectious Diseases again – in January 2015.”
In January 2016, Leah, who lives in Idle, Bradford, moved on to ward 27 – our orthopaedic, trauma and plastic surgery ward, and remained there until September 2017, when she was seconded to be ward manager on our Yorke Suite.