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60 seconds with...Hilary Paniagua, senior lecturer/researcher at Wolverhampton University

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We talk to Dr Hilary Paniagua, senior lecturer/researcher at Wolverhampton University, who has been a nurse for over 30 years

Why did you become a nurse?

I wanted to feel I had the power to help people.

Where did you train?

I trained for general nursing at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton and for midwifery at Copthorne Hospital in Shrewsbury.

What was your first job?

Staff nurse at the Women’s Hospital in Wolverhampton.

What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?

The inability to leave a box of chocolates or tub of Häagen Daz ice cream alone until its finished. I always regret it!

From whom have you learnt the most in your career?

The patients because it is a privilege to work with them.

What advice would you give someone starting out?

Don’t. It’s very hard work and doesn’t pay well. If you are someone who can ignore this advice then go for it - you are likely to do well.

What keeps you awake?

Loud neighbours.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Having the opportunity to take on activities that address the diverse needs of individuals.

What’s your proudest achievement?

Finding my way by train to a very remote village on the outskirts of Barcelona to meet a friend, when I was almost totally deaf because of an ear infection and struggled relentlessly with my unpractised Spanish.

What is likely to change nursing in the next decade?

Quality. It’s likely to get better.

What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?

My ambition was to be a dancer but my body had other ideas.

What job would you like to be doing in five years?

I would love to be in Argentina rounding up cattle with the gauchos. As far as a nursing career goes, you never know what is around the corner - that’s the beauty of your future.

What makes a good nurse?

Someone who can learn the tools of the trade, is able to interact authentically with people and is genuinely capable of challenging the boundaries set before them.

Health and illness are part of a cultural system associated with medical control. The institution of medicine is powerful

If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?

Healthcare. Health and illness are part of a wider cultural system closely associated with medical control. The institution of medicine has considerable power that establishes large and profitable markets such as pharmaceutical companies, political interests, hierarchies and male domination, which often reflects female subordination. Because patients’ perceptions of wellbeing are highly context specific and subject to the influence and dominant desires of science and medicine, this reduces patients’ own accounts of their illness and independent desires to take ownership of health. Furthermore, these social trends can result in women’s inability to control their own bodies.

What would your ideal weekend involve?

Saturday and Sunday.

If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?

Homer Simpson. Despite being crude, clumsy and ignorant, he has remarkable experiences, a happy marriage, children who bond with him and is able to exhibit a surprising depth of knowledge about various subjects. How does he do it?

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