We talk to Thomas Currid, senior lecturer at London South Bank University, who has been a nurse for 26 years
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
I wanted a job that involved helping people and one that offered variety. I was also interested in horticulture and was aware there were mental health services that included horticulture in the treatment of mental illness. My idea was to combine mental health nursing skills and horticultural skills in the recovery process.
Where did you train?
At Runwell Hospital in Essex.
What was your first job in nursing?
My first job (before training) was as a befriender in a hospital for older people in Ireland. It was an absolutely fantastic job. It offered me a thorough insight into the world of nursing.
What is the trait you least like in yourself?
Being a perfectionist.
Whom have you learnt most from in your nursing career?
Top of the list are the patients.
What advice would you give someone starting out in the profession?
Make sure you put aside at least one hour a day for self-directed learning. Question, challenge and read. Healthcare is continuously evolving and practices can become outdated quickly. Oh, and don’t leave assignments to the last minute.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Having the honour, pleasure and true privilege of facilitating student learning. Others include: seeing the positive contributions that students make to patients in their care, and seeing them grow and develop from novices to nurses who inspire me.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Being involved in the rehabilitation of a lady who had been in a psychiatric hospital for more than 30 years. Initially she was very submissive. She seemed to have lost all sense of empowerment. With various activities, this lady was enabled to exercise choice, grew in confidence and could decide what she wanted out of life. Later she would scrutinise what I was wearing and let me know if my attire was matching.
Make sure you put aside at least one hour a day for self-directed learning. Question, challenge and read
What do you think is likely to change nursing in the next decade?
Students will challenge current practices with fresh eyes. I am confident that they will develop and deliver on new ideas.
Which job would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
I would definitely have opted for a role that involves development whether it be at an individual or community level.
What do you think makes a good nurse?
Integrity and goodness will guide you in delivering the 6Cs. Linked to this are a number of other skills, such as being able to convey warmth and acceptance. Patients need to be reassured that you’re there to help and not judge.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
I’d love to see more of an equal power balance between patients and practitioners. Once patients know what your role is, I’m not sure what titles add. I think they can be intimidating.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
To retreat with friends to a little island off the north-west coast of Donegal in Ireland.
If you could spend an hour in someone’s company, who would it be?