We talk to Seamus O’Brien, outcome assessment manager at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, who has worked in nursing since 1984
Why did you become a nurse?
In 1983-84, some people promoting nursing as a career visited our school and they were especially encouraging men. This got me interested and here I am, 29 years later.
Where did you train?
Belfast City Hospital.
What was your first job?
In Musgrave Park Hospital, working with long-stay patients with various neurological conditions.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
I am a perfectionist and this can make you highly self-critical, which is not good for your mental health. I also find it incredibly difficult to say no.
From whom have you learnt most in your nursing career?
Orthopaedic surgeon and longstanding colleague, Professor David Beverland. He puts patients at the centre of everything. I tend to see clouds with silver linings; he taught me to see opportunity in bad times.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Work hard, be honest, be yourself, speak your mind and you will get lucky.
What keeps you awake?
I love reading - so a good book.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Working with Professor Beverland and conducting high-quality research and randomised controlled trials that have a direct impact on care. Being part of a team that helps make a positive difference to people’s lives following a hip or knee joint replacement.
What is your proudest achievement?
First, my two children, 10-year- old Emer and eight-year-old Cara. Second, working with Professor Beverland and setting up the Belfast Primary Joint Unit. The unit has produced groundbreaking research; it is recognised for having changed clinical practice over two decades and has improved the care of patients following hip or knee replacement. Third, winning this year’s Arthritis Research UK annual nursing prize in rheumatology.
Stop the constant meddling and listen to the people at the coalface. Protect the NHS and the patient
What do you think will change nursing in the next decade?
Dealing with the impact of a host of long-term conditions.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
A wildlife cameraman or veterinary surgeon.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
What makes a good nurse?
It’s very simple - someone who cares, and I don’t think you can teach caring.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
Stop the constant meddling and listen to the people at the coalface. Protect the NHS and the patient.
What is your ideal weekend?
Time with my wife Jackie and my two children, Emer and Cara. Reading books, walking, cycling and talking together. Then enjoying the company of good friends and family.
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
Ken Loach. I loved Raining Stones, which concerns an unemployed man’s efforts to buy a communion dress for his daughter. I like his politics; his films try to speak on behalf of the people whose voices were or are not allowed to be heard.