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60 seconds with...Paula Holt, lecturer at the University of Leeds

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We talk to Paula Holt, lecturer at the University of Leeds, who has been a nurse since 1985.

Why did you become a nurse?

My grandma was admitted to hospital with acute pancreatitis. Visiting her, I appreciated the role of the nurse and liked the variety and learning it offered.

Where did you train?

At a hospital in Harold Wood in Essex, part of the Romford School of Nursing.

What was your first job?

Staff nurse in the coronary care unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

What trait do you least like in yourself and why?

I tend to like things done my way. I set high standards and can get quite frustrated when I believe they are not met. Also, I don’t suffer fools gladly.

From whom have you learnt most in your nursing career?

I have learnt much from nursing and medical colleagues, student nurses and patients, and from authors I don’t know but whose work has informed, influenced and inspired me.

What advice would you give someone starting out?

Nursing is hard work but it is what a person makes it and the old cliche “no two days are the same” applies. It offers a vast range of opportunities at home and abroad and plenty of opportunities to learn and work in different specialties.

What keeps you awake?

A difficult situation at work may play on my mind as I reflect and try to solve it, but not very often. What keeps me awake more often is trying to learn a dressage test coming up.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Getting positive feedback from students who I know will put their learning into practice. I feel I have contributed to improving the lives of poorly people via the students.

What is your proudest achievement?

I have had a number - getting married, having children, having my book published. I was also the first person in my family to achieve a degree.

I would like to see a compulsory module on diabetes in all nursing and medical courses and regular updates afterwards

What will change nursing in the next decade?

Changing demographics will change nursing priorities, with more emphasis on long-term conditions. Advancing technology, research and pharmacology will have a huge impact, as will ever-increasing patient expectations.

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

My absolute dream job would have been to be an actress.

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

I would love to work with horses particularly in a “horse whisperer” sort of role. In reality, I will still be a lecturer.

What makes a good nurse?

The 6Cs, plus a sense of humour. A desire and an aptitude to care are needed, as I don’t think these can be taught.

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

Diabetes care is not always of the highest standard due to a lack of knowledge. I would like to see a compulsory module on diabetes in all nursing and medical courses and regular updates after qualification.

What is your ideal weekend?

Going a long ride on my horse in the sunshine, winding down lanes and galloping through open fields. Later, a meal with friends in a country pub that serves raspberry panacotta.

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

Olympic gold medal dressage riders Carl Hester or Charlotte Dujardin in the hope that they could offer me some top dressage tips and even let me ride one of their horses.

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