We talk to Dinah Gould, professor of nursing at Cardiff School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies, who qualified as a nurse in 1977
Why did you become a nurse?
I had a degree in biological sciences that paved the way for a laboratory-based career, but decided people were more interesting than test tubes.
Where did you train?
The Nightingale School, St Thomas’ Hospital.
What was your first job?
Staff nurse in the gynaecology ward at St Thomas’.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
I work very hard and I tend to be impatient with people who don’t get things done.
From whom have you learnt most from in your career?
Thelma Henry, who was in charge of continuing professional development when I was as an infection prevention and control nurse. She was very good at instilling confidence and giving feedback. She invited me to teach on the staff induction days and short courses she organised in house and I learnt to my very great surprise that I could teach.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Nursing and healthcare are constantly changing and all sorts of opportunities arise that you never expect. When I was a student, professors of nursing hadn’t been invented and I never imagined I would end up being one.
What keeps you awake?
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Watching people grow and develop, whether it is my students or junior colleagues
What’s your proudest achievement?
Recognising the importance of infection prevention and control long before most other people did. When I was an infection prevention and control nurse, it wasn’t taken seriously enough. For my PhD, I looked at compliance with hand hygiene. I registered for my PhD in 1990 and everybody thought I was mad to choose such a topic. At the time it seemed too specific, too trivial and unimportant.
What do you think will change nursing in the next decade?
More people will receive out of hospital care, less care will be provided courtesy of the NHS and the evidence base underpinning care will expand.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
If I had not been academically inclined, I would like to have worked in a zoo, preferably looking after small mammals.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
Probably what I am doing now.
What makes a good nurse?
Somebody who is imaginative and shows empathy.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
I wish that a system that could allow situations such as the one in Mid Staffordshire did not exist.
What’s your ideal weekend?
Not having to touch my computer.
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
The sister in the psychiatric day unit when I was a student. She said I would be an academic nurse but never a bedside nurse. She was right and wrong. I did become an academic nurse but I was a ward sister first. Remembering unkind comments like hers always reminds me how important it is to be kind - to patients and to colleagues and students.