We talk to Joan Myers, nurse consultant - community children’s nursing at Whittington Health, London, who has been a nurse for 27 years
Why did you become a nurse?
I enjoy caring for, looking after and helping people to feel better, get better and be better.
Where did you train?
I did my registered general nurse training at Lewisham Hospital, then went on to do a registered sick children’s nursing course at Guy’s Hospital in London.
What was your first job?
I worked in accident and emergency at Guy’s Hospital for a year before transferring to cardiothoracic and plastic surgery wards.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
I do not dislike any - they all make me who I am.
From whom have you learnt most in your career and why?
My mother, who was a nurse, advised me to always look at patients before reading notes, to observe everything around the bed and to talk to them to find out their needs or concerns.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Ask yourself if you would be happy with the care your patient is receiving and what you can do to improve it. Seek out role models and remember we are always learning. Things change constantly, so be adaptable.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Getting positive feedback from patients, and being able to develop staff and see them advance.
What is your proudest achievement?
There’s more than one! I’m proud of becoming the first and only nurse consultant in community children’s nursing in 2003, of being seconded to the Department of Health to lead on the Mary Seacole Awards and advise the chief nursing officer, of setting up a nurse-led eczema community clinic that is still running and receiving the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Award for Outstanding Service for community nursing. But most of all, I’m proud of setting up my charity to feed and educate 25 poor children in a village in Nakuru, Kenya.
Ask yourself if you would be happy with the care your patient is receiving and what you can do to improve it
What do you think will change nursing in the next decade?
Advancing technology and demands of an ageing, knowledgeable population. The NHS will need to use technology to improve the patient experience. Doing more with less finance and possibly fewer qualified staff means we have to be innovative and brave in using technology and self-management strategies.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
I’d like to be a director of nursing, ensuring high-quality care is given and shaping the workforce around improving the patient experience.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
The government shouldn’t be able to change things in the NHS with every election; that is detrimental to continuous improvement and positive outcomes. Nurse leaders should be able to lead and improve without so many directives.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
Being on safari observing the “big five”, while enjoying a fun-filled, relaxing weekend with friends and family.
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
Mary Seacole, to find out how she overcame the challenges to achieve all she did.