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International Nurses Day

Sergeant Thraves is an RAF nurse and part-time reservist with No 4626 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron.

The squadron is part of the medical operations group and sits with Tactical Medical Wing based at RAF Brize Norton. Thraves has recently returned from operations, where she worked as part of a light surgical group; a deployed hospital specialising in damage control resuscitation, damage control surgery and intensive care (ITU).

Thraves’s journey with the RAF began in 2008, when she joined 4626 Squadron as a medical assistant. On an operational tour in Afghanistan she decided to commit to nurse training.

 “I was a medic at the time, and I saw the job that the aeromedical evacuation nurses did and the benefit they provided to the injured personnel coming home, and that propelled me into doing the same thing.”

Thraves stayed with 4626 Squadron throughout her full-time, three-year degree course. She qualified as a nurse in 2015 and in civilian life is a nurse in the Emergency Department at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

“I kept up my work with 4624 on top of my full-time study and did part time work to pay my way, even though there was a bursary to cover student fees, being part of the reserves really helped.”

4626 Squadron was formed at RAF Wroughton in 1983 and has provided trained medical and nursing personnel to every major air operation in the last forty years. The squadron specialises in aeromedical evacuation, pre-hospital, and primary healthcare. Its personnel are recruited from the NHS and private healthcare sector and from across England and Wales.

Describing her experiences as a nurse on operations, Sergeant Thraves talks highly of the incredible teamwork she has experienced. She explains how the different specialisms, theatre nurse, ITU nurse, emergency medicine nurse, all worked seamlessly to share information.  

When it comes to recommending nursing as a profession, Sergeant Thraves is realistic. She has a foot in both camps, the RAF and the NHS.  She has experienced a pandemic in an NHS hospital and operations with the RAF. She says that it’s been an incredible opportunity, developing as a nurse and working with the military in such an amazing team and would recommend nursing as a career, but it is not for the faint hearted.

“There are so many different options in nursing, and so many different types of nurses. It does not matter where you are in the world, nurses are a key element to every kind of medical service. And that is echoed within our profession with the backgrounds and cultures we embody, and the differences they bring.”