Dermatology and rheumatology

Penguin Ward at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) provides tertiary care to children with dermatology and rheumatology disorders in acute (sometimes high dependency) and chronic phases. The age ranges from neonates to 18 years.

Children suffering from a wide range of rheumatology disorders are referred to the unit, for example those with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, systemic erythematosis, dermatomyositis, scleroderma and pain amplification syndromes.

Likewise from dermatology, conditions and treatments are varied and range from more common conditions such as eczema to rare disorders like epidermolysis bullosa.

Annie Coen, Ward Sister

Annie has worked at GOSH for seven years. She completed her training at the Trust and on graduating applied directly for a staff nurse post on Penguin Ward. Outside of work, Annie enjoys walking and at the beginning of 2010, completed the gruelling Alpine Walk in New Zealand.

Why did you decide to come and work at GOSH, and on Penguin Ward in particular?

I love the paediatric focus. I have found the Trust to be an incredibly supportive environment through every stage of my career. I really feel like everyone's opinions count here.

As a student, I was able to see how strong the multidisciplinary team working across Penguin Ward is. As a nurse here, you get to liaise with staff at all levels of seniority and from many different specialties, from psychologists to physiotherapists and play workers. I enjoy the variety.

What conditions do you treat on Penguin Ward?

We treat children with dermatology and rheumatology conditions, so this includes things like severe eczema, haemangiomas, vascular malformations, epidermolysis bullosa, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, juvenile dermatomyosytis and vasculitis.

What does your role involve?

As Ward Sister, I'm responsible for planning both inpatient and ambulatory beds, compiling staffing rotas, attending ward rounds, working with the administration team and managing 14 members of staff. I also ensure I work clinically alongside nursing staff.

What skills do you think a nurse working on Penguin Ward needs?

A nurse on Penguin Ward needs to be a great communicator who can work in a constantly changing environment.

We provide ward and ambulatory care to patients. Ambulatory care is always busy so a nurse here is constantly on the go.

On the ward, the pace will fluctuate depending on how many patients we have. If every bed is full, the workload will be non-stop. If they aren't, then nurses need to think independently about other things they can be doing. For example, if a nurse was working during a particularly quiet period I would expect them to pick up a board game and play with a patient, not just focus on the clinical care they have provided.

What do you find most rewarding about your job?

I really enjoy working in such a fun, welcoming, friendly team.