We talk to Angela Thavaraj, advancing practice nurse at St Christopher’s Hospice, London, who has been a nurse for 17 years.
Why did you become a nurse?
I became a Christian at the age of 20 when I was working in a bank. My whole world view changed and I decided that I wanted to do something more worthwhile. I had many friends from church who were nurses and midwives and it sounded like a good prospect. It has definitely been worthwhile.
Where did you train?
The Nightingale and Guy’s College, now King’s College London.
What was your first job in nursing?
Oncology/haematology ward at the Hammersmith Hospital in west London.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
Worrying about what other people think about me. As a Christian, I know that my self-worth comes from Christ, and that is a great relief.
From whom have you learnt the most in your career?
My first ward manager because she role modelled the importance of good basic nursing care and attention to detail.
What advice would you give someone starting out in the profession?
Find a good role model. Concentrate on the basics such as good nursing care and communication with patients and their families - listen and acknowledge their concerns. Don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t have the answers.
Look after yourself and your colleagues.
What keeps you awake at night?
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Empowering nurses to see their contribution can make a difference to patients and families and how they cope with progressive illness. Helping nurses to realise it is not rocket science to provide compassionate and person-centred care.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Being part of the nursing team at St Christopher’s Hospice.
I find it satisfying to help nurses to realise it is not rocket science to provide compassionate and person-centred care
What do you think will change nursing in the next decade?
Hopefully, a more joined-up system between health and social care. Managing the ageing population and dementia.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
If I could not work as a nurse, I wouldn’t mind being a florist.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
The same one - It is ideal as I work both clinically and in education.
What makes a good nurse?
Having compassion and being committed to patients, families and colleagues. This is perhaps summed up by Carl Rogers’ care conditions - empathy, congruence (being real) and unconditional positive regard.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
Quality end-of-life care for all.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
Saturday - leisurely breakfast, gardening and movie. Sunday - church and lunch with family or friends.
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
Aung San Suu Kyi the Burmese opposition leader for her incredible resilience, sacrifice, persistence and humility. She is a truly inspiring woman.