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The Royal Marsden

Amazing alumni – meet Sarah Barwell

Ever wondered what studying at The Royal Marsden could do for you? Here, a former student tells us how the School has helped shape their career

Sarah Barwell, 28 (far right, above), is now a ward sister on GH2 – a private male surgical ward at The Royal Marsden. She completed the 18month nurse rotation course in September 2016, alongside studying for a BSc in Cancer Care.

“I was working at The Royal Marsden on Wiltshaw Ward, when my mentor mentioned the rotation programme to me and encouraged me to do it. She had completed it previously and was telling me all about the benefits, such as giving me more confidence and experience, and helping my career progress. As she put it, ‘It grows your confidence, it grows your knowledge and it grows your skills’, so she totally sold it to me! 

“Before I signed up, she arranged for me to meet Chris McNamara from the School. I wanted to find out more about what was involved and how the programme could lead to better job opportunities – he was very convincing, too! That combination of learning the theory and building up your knowledge behind your clinical practice is so beneficial. The School also seemed like a really friendly and supportive environment to study in. 

If you can, take that opportunity to study at one of the best hospitals in the world.

Sarah Barwell, Ward Sister

“For my rotation, I did three, six-month placements in the Critical Care Unit, Markus Ward and Wilson Ward where I learned about chemotherapy, head and neck skills, cannulation, port accessing and how to run a shift on a busy ward. I also studied additional modules including acute cancer practice, communication in cancer practice and applying research to clinical practice. 

“When I finished, I became a specialist oncology nurse in the private patient medical day unit. The Royal Marsden is an incredible place to work – one thing I really like is that the wards are a lot smaller. Where I trained as a nurse there were 30-bed wards that you could get lost in. Here, I can be the nurse I need to be rather than the nurse I would be forced into being due to budget cuts or staff shortages in other hospitals.

“I was then promoted to senior staff nurse in the same unit before moving to GH2 as a ward manager. I know I wouldn’t be in the position I am now if I hadn’t done the nurse rotation. It really is an amazing programme for any newly qualified nurses – you can train for a qualification in oncology at the same time as being in practice, and really learn on the job. If you can, take that opportunity to study at one of the best hospitals in the world.”

Amazing alumni – meet Sarah Barwell | The Royal Marsden School
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