Angela nursing associateAngela Manktelow is a nursing associate who can be found on the Acute Medicine Unit (AMU) at East Surrey Hospital, part of Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH). Angela is categorised as severely dyslexic.

Since the age of eight, Angela dreamt of becoming a nurse. She attended the Eastbourne Airbourne, also known as the Eastbourne International Airshow, where the fighter jets were not the only thing to catch her eye. She met the medics in their uniform and told her mum she wanted to be just like them.

For years in school Angela tried her best to work towards her dream career, but when she didn’t receive any help in regard to her dyslexia when she asked, Angela started to struggle. After facing bullying at school from her peers with taunts of “stupid” and “dumb”, she categorised herself as ‘street-smart’ and not ‘academically smart.’ This experience led to Angela falling into a comfort bubble of hiding her learning difficulty.

At 16-years-old she left school and tried to pursue her career in healthcare. After receiving little support at the time for her needs, she failed at becoming an army medic and was instead categorised as an artillery gunner. Not letting this hinder her dream, Angela resat the exam and was given the chance to become an army medic. Unfortunately, due to health problems at the time, she had to give up her career as an army medic.

To tide her over, Angela took on many different roles (a builder, factory worker and pint puller are a few job roles she has up her sleeve). When the pub closed down, Angela joined the Temporary Staffing Bureau at a NHS Trust. For two and a half years she found herself in the storeroom, learning about all the equipment and how to sterilise it. In theatres she saw the equipment in action, before ending up in admission discharge recovery where she took her National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs). During this time the nursing associate course was being rolled out at her old workplace. Angela passed the university and hospital interview and found herself a place on the course.

She was unfortunately faced with another challenge regarding her dyslexia when her manager did not believe she would be able to complete the course because of it. This lack of support made Angela question her own abilities and when COVID-19 led to all learning going online, she struggled. After lots of resubmissions, Angela finally passed her nursing associate course and found herself interviewing for a position at SASH. Thrown off by her first face-to-face interview, she thought she wouldn’t get the job until HR called to offer her the position.

As a member of the One Team at SASH, Angela is thriving. She has learnt a lot, especially during the launch of eSASH, SASH’s enhanced electronic patient record. This was a real challenge compared to her usual dictating of notes to herself and typing them up, especially following a negative paperless experience at her old job. Training took Angela five days instead of five hours, and she is extremely grateful for the one-to-one training she received.

Going from hiding her dyslexia on the Electronic Staff Records by selecting ‘other’, to selecting she does have it, Angela is inspiring everyone she meets by being loud and proud about her learning difficulty. During her time on her preceptorship course, she did a presentation on her dyslexia and openly admitted to struggling. This inspired others to come forward and share their own struggles.

When asked how she finds support at SASH Angela said: “AMU are so supportive and the team are phenomenal. Compared to my old workplace, I know I can turn to anyone and say I’m struggling and receive help. I’m so much more confident too. Ruth Cotterill, practice development nurse for AMU, especially has gone above and beyond for me.

I don’t notice any specific adjustments needed with my cope-and-carry-on attitude – I’m still learning everything myself and what it is that I like! My regular meetings with the practice development and management teams make me feel best supported in my role.”