We talk to Kate Jack, usually an advanced virology (hepatitis) specialist nurse at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, now undertaking a master’s degree in research methods. She is an executive committee member of HCV Action. She has been a nurse for 23 years.
Why did you become a nurse?
A friend was training to be a nurse and absolutely loved it. Her enthusiasm was contagious and she was the only person I knew who had a job and actually liked it. I simply wanted to help people get better.
Where did you train?
Worthing and Southlands Hospitals School of Nursing. We had to wear paper hats until they were banned. I was relieved as I often got into trouble for my hat being wonky.
What was your first job?
It was an 18-month staff nurse development programme; six months on an orthopaedic surgical ward followed by care of the older people then the intensive therapy unit. It gave me a good springboard to move onto an acute medical ward.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
No willpower over chocolate.
From whom have you learnt the most in your career?
A staff nurse on my first ward placement who showed me how to deliver bedside care and the night sister who I did my first “night ward round” with as a student. We had to know the name, age, diagnosis, social situation and discharge plans of all 28 patients on the ward. She taught me how important it is to know who was in my care in case of an unexpected event on the ward.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Treat all patients with the same care, diligence and respect as if they were a family member or friend. You don’t instantly know the background story of why they may have the lifestyle or behaviour you first see.
What keeps you awake?
Usually a small child plus the cat drying his wet feet on my pillow, but quantitative statistics are taking over at the moment.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Being able to tell someone their hepatitis C treatment has worked and they are no longer infected. It’s hugely satisfying to help a person on a treatment journey - it’s not at all easy to cope with hepatitis C therapy.
You don’t instantly know the background story of why patients may have the lifestyle or behaviour you first see
What’s your proudest achievement?
Having my two daughters.
What will change nursing?
More nurses in clinical academic roles and undertaking research. If an intervention can’t be provided as there is not enough evidence for it, we should get the evidence ourselves.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
I’d like to have completed a PhD and be a clinical academic nurse specialist, designing services to fit the needs of patients.
What makes a good nurse?
A “just do it” approach, making the effort to learn about patients’ health issues, not leaving things for the next shift and smiling. Grumbling in earshot of patients about the ward or their life really isn’t good.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
I would invest much more in closing health gaps between rich and poor. Health inequalities haven’t changed since the introduction of the NHS.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
Somewhere sunny with my family, and no phones or emails.
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
Stephen Fry - I’d ask him to have Prince Charles on QI.