We talk to Rebecca Sherrington, respiratory consultant and chair of the Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists, who has been a nurse for 19 years.
Why did you become a nurse?
I didn’t work hard enough at school to go to university and wanted a job that was practical. I initially applied for mental health training but quickly realised I hated it and much preferred general nursing.
Where did you train?
Salford University College, Bolton School of Nursing.
What was your first job in nursing?
Staff nurse in cardiothoracic care at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
I’m quite direct and I like things to be done straight away; I expect everyone else around me to work that way, which can sometimes be problematic.
From whom have you learnt the most in your career?
I’m always meeting amazing people. Patients and family have made fantastic impressions on me. I’ve had some good managers and am now working for a great ARNS committee and that’s given me loads of enthusiasm and inspired me.
The patients I look after are breathless so can feel isolated, and having a respiratory nurse really adds to their quality of life
What advice would you give someone starting out?
You’ll never be perfect, so always be kind to yourself.
What keeps you awake at night?
Realising I haven’t finished my to-do list.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Feeling I’ve supported a patient and their family in a really difficult situation. The patients I look after are breathless so they can feel very isolated, and having a respiratory nurse really adds to their quality of life and it’s amazing to be a part of that.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Passing my final nursing exam.
What do you think is likely to change nursing in the next decade?
I think there will be far more varied roles in the community. Supporting patients, giving them care in the community rather than inpatient care will be important.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
I would love to have been a journalist but I strongly believe in fate and I have loved this job.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
That’s a good question because five years ago I never thought I’d be where I am now. Influencing nursing and patient care is always a big must for me in a future job.
What makes a good nurse?
Somebody who takes time to listen - to colleagues and patients.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
The time we have available for patients and colleagues.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
Lots of nice food - not cooked by me - time with my family and lots of running.
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
If I could go back in time, it would be Tony Benn. Now, it would be Angela Merkel. She never seems worried by international financial crises, wars and intimidating world leaders. I’d also love to meet Russell Brand; he says what he thinks regardless of what others may think and appears to care about nurses.