We talk to Sandra Christie, director of quality and nursing, at Wirral Community Trust, who has been a nurse for over 30 years.
Why did you become a nurse?
I spent five years in an office after leaving school at 16. I enjoyed working with people and wanted a job that would be interesting, rewarding and challenging. I found myself chatting about nursing at an NHS recruitment event… the rest is history.
Where did you train?
What was your first job in nursing?
Surgery and orthopaedics. I loved it - the patients, the work and the team. I only left after having two children. Childcare that fitted around ward shifts was hard to find in the 1980s.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
Fear of failure, because you don’t learn if you don’t take measured risks.
From whom have you learnt the most from in your career?
I learnt a lot from a good ward manager when I was a student. One day I was sitting on a bed talking to a patient. Sister came in and I sprang up. In the office, she said that pulling a chair up to the bed meant you were at the right height to talk to a patient and not spreading infection by sitting on the bed, but I was never to forget that talking and listening to patients were important skills, which I should always make time for.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Nursing gives you the opportunity to work in all sorts of environments, and you will always know your job makes a real difference to people’s lives.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Knowing that every part of my role helps to deliver great care, whether it is working with patients and clinicians, or working on strategy.
What is your proudest achievement?
After my family, being a nurse and a Florence Nightingale leadership scholar.
Nursing gives you the chance to work in all sorts of environments, and you will always know your job makes a real difference
What will change nursing in the next decade?
Two things. The first is listening to and valuing patients and staff, then acting on what we hear. The second is the renewed focus on the fundamentals of care. Compassion in Practice reinforces the importance of all the things I came into nursing for.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
Something creative. I love all forms of art and craft.
What job would you like to be doing in five years time?
I had no idea when I came into nursing that I would have this post, so who knows?
What makes a good nurse?
Kindness, humility, listening, respect, courage, time to care and being technically good. Also the ability to notice the little things that make a big difference to patients.
If you could change one thing in healthcare what would it be?
That we took time to celebrate all the great things that happen.
What is your ideal weekend?
A trip to London, where both my grown-up daughters live. Shopping, good food and good company. What’s not to like?
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
Edith Cavell, a British nurse who saved the lives of soldiers from both sides during the First World War. As she told her nurses: “Each man was a father, a husband, a son: the profession of nursing knew no frontiers.” A great example of courage and commitment to nursing.