We talk to Anita Rolfe, chief nurse and director of quality assurance at Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust, who has been a nurse for 26 years.
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
My mum worked at a cottage hospital. I used to visit and talk to the patients, who were always full of fascinating stories. I always wanted to know if they were OK and what happened to them after they had gone home.
Where did you train?
The West Pennine College of Health Studies, the last class before Project 2000.
What was your first job?
Surgical nurse on a male urology ward at Tameside Hospital.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
Wishing there were more hours in the day and thinking about what I haven’t finished, what I still need to do and what I need to prepare for. This can make it difficult to switch off.
From whom have you learnt the most in your career?
I was fortunate to work with Jane Cummings when she was in the North West. Her expertise gave me a valuable insight into the need to work beyond organisational boundaries for the single aim of improving care.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Be true to yourself and those you are caring for. Ask yourself if you want to be a nurse because you enjoy being with and caring about others. This is your natural motivation to be the best you can be.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Being in the patient environment, whether the inpatient or community setting. I never tire of meeting people and listening to their individual life stories because they are absolutely fascinating.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Without hesitation, my three children.
Nurses will need to apply professional judgement to the wealth of information everybody has at their fingertips
What do you think will change nursing in the next decade?
Technology and the way that patients want to interact with health professionals. Staff will need to adapt and be able to apply professional judgement to the wealth of information that anybody and everybody has at their fingertips.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
A detective in the police force.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
Working as a nurse leader in primary and community care.
What makes a good nurse?
A good nurse is patient, kind, good-natured, well-mannered and truly cares about what happens to other people. Eye contact and a smile should come naturally. A good nurse has a plan to guide others through difficult times and values the contribution that everybody makes in delivering that plan.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
That people and organisations worked to focus on thepatient outcome in a truly integrated way. There arelots of barriers that preventthis from happening in a systemic way.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
Family, friends, fresh air and sunshine.
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
Queen Victoria at her Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. We could talk about gardening and our children.