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“Helping a patient through surgery and seeing how it improves their life makes my job all the more special.”

Ethna O'Mahoney joined the theatre department at University Hospital, Coventry in 2014 after her love for watching surgery-related documentaries inspired her to become a Healthcare Assistant. Eight years later she is a Senior Theatre Operating Practitioner and has shared her story with us.


Why did you begin a career in theatre?

Before joining UHCW NHS Trust I spent 28 years working with children in both nursery and secondary schools and as a nanny. For four of these years I supported children with autism in the classroom, and I felt really fulfilled caring for others.

Alongside this I had a strong interest in watching and learning about surgery; so I decided to take on a new challenge and apply for a role as a Healthcare Assistance to get experience working in a hospital.

I received job offers in three different departments at UHCW and one of them was in theatres. I was over the moon, as this was the department I really wanted to work in and I began my career journey with the Trust in April 2014.


Can you tell us about the experience you have gained since joining UHCW NHS Trust?

During my time as a Healthcare Assistant I supported the theatre staff before and during surgery by transporting patients from wards to theatre and helping keep them calm before they go in for their operation.

To help develop my skills I then started an Assistant Theatre Practitioner course and qualified in 2016. During this time I worked within the Scrub Practitioners role, helping to prepare the operating room for surgery and ensured all equipment was available and safe to use.

Next I completed an Operating Department Practitioners Course at university and became an Anaesthetic Practitioner in 2019, which involved providing anaesthesia to patients before surgery.

I became a Senior Theatre Operating Practitioner at the start of 2022 and I’m now responsible for co-ordinating and managing junior staff within the team; I’ve come full circle.


What do you enjoy the most about your role?

I love caring for people and helping patients in surgery and seeing the difference it makes to their life is so rewarding.

We’ll see patients who are in so much pain and are struggling to walk before their surgery come out of theatres relieved and able to do the things they enjoy again. It’s just amazing.


Would you recommend your job and UHCW NHS Trust to others?

Absolutely, I would recommend working in theatres in a heartbeat. We’re a busy department and its hard work but it’s such a rewarding role and everyone on the team is so supportive and encouraging.

There are so many opportunities to learn and develop your skillset here. If you have the enthusiasm and drive to progress then you will always be supported to achieve your goals.

I still pinch myself sometimes because I can’t believe where I am. I feel honoured that I get to do this job and can see myself staying in my role for the foreseeable future.


Inspired by Ethna’s story? Find out more about working at UHCW by visiting:

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