We talk to Angela Parry, director of clinical education at the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, King’s College London, who has been a nurse for 33 years.
Why did you become a nurse?
I first knew I wanted to be a nurse when I was aged eight, and I never wavered. I made a pact with my best friend in my bedroom at my parents’ house. We both went on to become nurses and we’re still in touch.
Where did you train?
I trained at the Thomas Guy School of Nursing or Guy’s Hospital, London.
What was your first job?
Staff nurse at Guy’s Hospital. Particularly memorable as this is where I met my husband, a houseman on the same ward.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
I’m very much a can do sort of person so I get frustrated when people don’t put everything into their work, life, or whatever they’re trying to achieve.
From whom have you learnt most from in your career?
Patients. They are the best resource. To provide nursing care to people is a real privilege. To be given access, often without limit and without question, to the minds and the bodies of patients, when they are at their most vulnerable, or perhaps facing their biggest challenge, is a huge honour, that carries tremendous responsibility.
We need better provision of integrated care. There is a real disconnect between hospital and community services
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Care for yourself and seek support. You’re part of an amazing interdisciplinary team - so use them.
What keeps you awake?
Nothing. My ability to sleep is legendary. Ask my family. I switch off the light and I’m out before my head touches the pillow.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Seeing the change in our students, from their first lecture and clinical placement, through to completion and registration. Students, many of whom join us at undergraduate level, arrive excited and passionate, but can lack confidence. I enjoy seeing their confidence levels rise over the course of their studies.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Overall, I’m proudest of the fact that I have somehow managed to achieve balance in my life - a challenging and interesting career, a great family, and some dear life-long friends. What more could anyone ask for?
What will change nursing in the next decade?
I’ve heard nurses called the “Swiss army knife of the NHS”, in that they need to be adaptable in almost any situation. This will continue and will probably increase - with greater pressure on nursing to lead healthcare; to provide not only the best care at the point of need, but also to supply the research for best practice and to become solutions providers for their organisations and patients.
What makes a good nurse?
Resilience, compassion, openness and curiosity - not necessarily in that order.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
Better provision of integrated care across multiple settings, and within the community. There is, and always has been, a real disconnect between hospital services and more local, community-based ones.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
Family and friends.
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
Nelson Mandela. He was a huge inspiration and continues to move me today.