Doreen flying high into nursing career
Originally from Zimbabwe, Doreen Roots, a student nurse at Solent, arrived in the UK in 2002. She joined Solent in 2009 as an admin assistant. Doreen enjoyed working in admin but working at Solent opened her eyes to new opportunities. She wanted to advance and grow in her career, and after discovering her love for nursing, Doreen dove in. It has been a challenging and long journey but one where Doreen is happy, she took that step with the support of her team.
Doreen says, “I felt helpless and wanted to do more for patients and take my love for nursing to the next level and when the opportunity arose, I spoke to the learning and development team, and we decided for me to start the process and get the right qualifications to move forward.
“I had the support from my then manager who said they would help me with the functional skills and training. I fit this into my shift and worked extra hours. I was encouraged to apply for any role in health care in a clinical capacity by a mentor in learning and development team. I then got a job in 2018 as Generic rehabilitation assistant with Portsmouth Re-enablement and Rehabilitation Team (PRRT).”
In March 2020 Doreen started her Trainee Nursing Associate (TNA) apprenticeship with Solent University. A two-year course, Doreen finished this in March 2022, where you learn and do practical nursing duties alongside her normal job role.
In November 2021, Doreen was redeployed into Community Nursing in Portsmouth. She explained to her manager that she wanted to continue further with her training. “The management in community nursing encouraged me to complete a top up/bridging module course (April to August) and they are continuing to support me in my third year Adult Nursing Training at Solent University now, which I started in September."
Doreen is now studying her final year to become a registered nurse, and by September 2023 she will be qualified. Doreen adds, “I am so grateful for the team I have. With their support I am able to study and attend university once a week while completing placement and work hours.”
“I am a people’s person; I didn’t realise how much I cared about caring. I care about people and doing the best I can for them. In the community when we take on patients, we walk the journey with them from their most vulnerable to a place where they feel competent and can manage on their own. It gives me so much satisfaction and pride when I see them progress and because of the care we have given them, they have independence and freedom to look after themselves.”
Doreen has faced many challenges in her career and experienced racism. “It made me doubt myself. It’s a hidden type of racism but great allies and colleagues were around to prop me, support me and gave me the confidence to stand up and speak out.
"When I first came to the UK, agencies discriminated against me because I was black, I was told the job was no longer available. I would get interviews – but once they saw I was black they would make excuses about the job not being available anymore.
“One recruitment lady kept pushing for me as she saw how unfair this was but then I got an interview at Portsmouth Hospital and that was my opportunity in. The lady, who was the manager who hired me, we became very good friends, and she was my maid of honour at my wedding.
“Things are better but there is a way to go, there are still some ignorant people who are discriminatory. But I don’t let it get me down and always try treat people with kindness.”
The value of staff support
Doreen has been a member of our Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) Staff Network since its inception in 2018. “The BAME group has been a huge source of support for me and always gives good advice. They have also supported me in my nursing journey and taking racism seriously.”
Doreen enjoys working with the Trust, especially due to her team. “Teamwork in my job is amazing – we all support each other, professionally and on a personal level. If someone sees you are not well, they reach out and ask you how you are. I also try to do that for others and when I see someone in need, I signpost them to our groups or places where they can get the help, advice and support they need.”
*If you would like to become a member or ally of this network, please email
*October is Black History Month*