Lisa’s journey from cabin crew to CCU thanks to QVH

Monday 5th February 2024

Lisa’s journey from cabin crew to CCU thanks to QVH

From serving champagne on an airline, to supporting patients in a critical care unit (CCU), the journey into nursing for Lisa Desbruslais was not what you might expect. But thanks to apprenticeship opportunities supported by Queen Victoria Hospital (QVH) Lisa is on the way to the career she always dreamt of.

The theme of National Apprenticeship Week (5-11 February) is ‘skills for life’ and for Lisa, this couldn’t be more apt. Lisa was in her 20s when she first started her nursing training. Just one year short of completing, she paused her dream of being a nurse to become a mum. Fast forward 20 years, three children, and a successful career working as a member of cabin crew, a chance medical emergency in the middle of a flight was the push she needed to go back to her dream of becoming a nurse.

Lisa explains: “I worked as cabin crew whilst my children were growing up, but after seeing each of them go to university and study for their degrees, I wished that I’d finished my own nursing training. I had to take yearly exams for the airline which I enjoyed but it was after giving emergency CPR to a passenger whilst flying over St Lucia, I realised that nursing was where my heart had been the whole time. I applied to work on the bank at QVH, doing ad hoc shifts as a healthcare assistant when they needed me to get some experience, and whilst I was there I heard about apprenticeship schemes and knew that’s what I needed to do.”

“After being made redundant from the airline after Covid, I applied to work at QVH full time and loved it. One year later I started my Nursing Associate apprenticeship. They’ve also supported to do my Level 2 functional maths as I needed to improve my grade from school. I’m now a fully-fledged Nursing Associate and am already part way through the next step – to get a nursing degree – again on an apprenticeship programme. I’m enjoying the challenge of studying and working at the same time. I’m currently in the critical care unit and learning so much.”

The nursing associate role enables health care assistants to further develop and deliver additional hands-on care. As it is a foundation degree it allows those who complete it to continue studying for a full nursing degree.

Lisa continues: “I feel so privileged and lucky to finally be following my dreams of becoming a nurse. My route to get here may have taken a few detours but I’m proof that you can follow your dreams regardless and that apprenticeships aren’t just for youngsters! I’m looking forward to completing in September 2025 and my children being there for my graduation this time.”

Through apprenticeships, QVH offers its staff the opportunity to achieve a qualification whilst earning a salary. Its hardworking staff can gain new skills through studying and hands-on experience, progress in their career and most importantly, support the hospital in caring for its patients. Apprenticeships are available from Level 2 right through to Level 7 (Masters).

James Lowell, Chief Executive Officer at Queen Victoria Hospital, said: “Lisa and our other apprentices are such an asset to our hospital and we’re proud that we can play a part in helping them develop their careers. Having been an apprentice myself in the early part of my career, I know first-hand how important opportunities like this are, really giving you skills for life, and enabling us as an organisation to provide the best possible care for our patients.”

Find out more about apprenticeships at Queen Victoria Hospital here or on the national apprenticeship website.