We talk to Caroline Bradbury-Jones, senior lecturer at the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, University of Manchester, who has been a nurse for 33 years.
Why did you become a nurse?
I went into hospital when I was 12 years old for a tonsillectomy. I was fascinated by the nurses and decided then I was to become a nurse.
Where did you train?
I trained in a school of nursing in Wrexham, north Wales.
What was your first job?
Staff nurse on a female orthopaedic ward.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
I get upset when I get things wrong. This is unhelpful because everyone makes mistakes. Paradoxically, I don’t mind receiving critical feedback on publications or grant submissions. You become accustomed to peer scrutiny, most of which is very helpful.
From whom have you learnt the most in your career?
I have learnt much from an eclectic mix of wonderful nurses. Most are probably unaware they have been so influential.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Always question and be prepared to challenge anything that you think is not right.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Watching others grow personally and professionally. Attending the graduation of nurses you have supported is extremely rewarding.
What is your proudest achievement?
Getting my PhD. It has opened doors to so many opportunities.
What do you think will change nursing in the next decade?
The biggest issue is globalisation. Technology and population mobility mean the profile of health has shifted; non-communicable diseases such as diabetes were once a feature of resource-rich countries, but now pose a major threat in resource-poor countries. It is now easier than ever to connect with and learn from each other. Globalisation will continue so nursing needs to address its challenges and harness its benefits.
I would like to change the culture in nursing to one where challenging poor practice becomes the norm
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
I once wanted to be an archaeologist. There may be parallels between archaeology and nursing research. Both involve persistently and methodically scratching away, discovering small pieces then carefully piecing them together.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
I would like to be a professor.
What makes a good nurse?
Compassion, empathy, wisdom, critical thinking, diligence, integrity, humility… and humour.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
I would change the pervasive culture in healthcare generally - but in nursing specifically - of a failure to challenge. The Francis report has highlighted the dire consequences when poor practice goes unchallenged. So I would change the culture of nursing to one where challenging becomes the norm.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
It would be a long trek into the mountains with a rucksack, a tent and a great companion.
If you could spend an hour with someone who would it be?
Nelson Mandela for his willingness to stand up for what he believed was right.