Published on: 30 September 2019

Alan Dobbs feels right at home in his new job as a staff nurse with South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust at Sunderland Royal Hospital, having started as a ward clerk before embarking on a career in nursing.

Alan is working in emergency care after successfully completing a three-year BSc Adult Nursing course at Northumbria University this Summer and is now looking forward to getting on with the task of making a difference to his patients’ lives.

He said: “I have been inspired during my training by seeing patients coming in to hospital who are really poorly and going home in much better health. I can’t wait to use my nursing skills and learning to positive effect and, hopefully, be a pillar of support when needed.”

Alan, 33, originally did a degree in computing but when he graduated in 2008 he was unsuccessful in obtaining a job in this field and worked as a customer service advisor at a supermarket before becoming a ward clerk in the Emergency Ambulatory Care Unit at Sunderland Royal in 2014.

“I loved the job but, following a tragedy in my family when I saw at first hand the care that doctors and nurses provide, I felt that was what I needed to do,” he said. “The Trust has been really supportive throughout the whole process. My manager initially encouraged me under the Trust’s ‘Get Into Nursing’ scheme to apply to be a healthcare assistant in order to see if nursing was right for me and to help me get onto a nursing degree course. I got the position and I spent six months working in surgical areas and six months in medical at Sunderland Royal Hospital, which convinced me that I was making the right decision.”

With the support of the Trust’s Workforce Development and Nursing Education teams, Alan achieved his Care Certificate - an agreed set of standards that define the knowledge, skills and behaviours expected of specific patient support roles in the health and social care sectors – and successfully applied for the nursing degree course at Northumbria University.

“I would say to anyone thinking of going into nursing that, with the right support and advice, you can do it so go for it,” he said.

Melanie Johnson, the Trust’s Executive Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals, said: “I’m delighted that, through his own dedication and determination and the right support, Alan has been able to pursue a career in nursing and that he has chosen to join us to do so. It is very rewarding to be able to help our staff to realise their ambitions and I wish him all the very best in his new role.”

Alan is following in his family’s footsteps by working for South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust: mum, Linda Clinton, is a theatres support worker at Sunderland Royal Hospital and his aunt, Karen Roberts, is a healthcare assistant at St Benedict’s Hospice and Centre for Specialist Palliative Care in Ryhope, Sunderland.

There is an open invitation for registered nurses and third year adult nursing students due to qualify early in 2020 to attend a South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust recruitment event on Thursday (October 3rd) at Haven Court, in the grounds of South Tyneside District Hospital, between 10am and 2pm. This is a chance to find out about the various clinical areas, chat with staff and discuss the job opportunities available.

For the Trust’s current nursing vacancies go to

Anyone interested in a career in nursing with the Trust can find out more at