Senior Lecturer Terry Ferns returns to NHS front line at critical care unit


Dr Terry Ferns, Senior Lecturer in Adult Nursing shares his experience of volunteering with his local critical care unit during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Before joining the University of Greenwich in 2003, Terry spent over ten years working in clinical practice across UK critical care facilities.

"As the current Coronavirus situation developed, I thought that my previous experience meant I could contribute. Personally, I felt that as an academic who teaches others, I should show that I could lead by example. I hope that my presence in practice offers current students reassurance.

I contacted a critical care unit I had worked with in the past and offered to help in any way I could. I was then asked to join the hospital nursing bank, attended a critical care refresher day and joined at the beginning of April.
I worked in the ICU caring for patients requiring ventilation due to Covid 19. I was involved in delivering routine care that maintained their safety as they could not breathe without support, monitoring and responding to changes in their vital signs and providing personal care. I was also there to help my colleagues due to their huge workload. 

Throughout my time at the clinic, I was struck by the lethal nature of the virus. The unit was full and the staff were working flat out with more patients, in terms of actual number and illness severity, than usual. I have infinite admiration for the critical care staff, at all levels, who are working so hard and so professionally. Coming back into practice in these circumstances was difficult but they could not have been more welcoming. I also appreciate all the people who are taking on new roles. I have met lots of medical professionals out of their comfort zones but contributing. Finally, I have met students who have opted into care delivery. What a fantastic group they are.

I have received so much support from the University. Colleagues have asked if I am finding it difficult returning to practice after time away. I have found the new technical equipment, unit routine, policies and procedures and medications difficult but this is nothing in comparison to what the patients, relatives and full-time staff are dealing with. 

It has been incredibly rewarding. I'm proud that many staff and students associate me with the University of Greenwich and I hope this reflects well on all academics. As a nation we are all trying to offer our support in incredibly difficult circumstances - well done everybody!