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60 seconds with...Steve Hemingway, senior lecturer in mental health

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We talk to Steve Hemingway, senior lecturer in mental health at the University of Huddersfield, who has been a nurse for 27 years

Why did you become a nurse?

I had family members who were nurses, who both enjoyed the work, making a difference to people’s lives.

Where did you train?

School of Nursing, Stanley Royd Hospital, Wakefield.

What was your first job in nursing?

My first staff nurse post was in the day hospital at Stanley Royd.

From whom have you learnt most in your nursing career?

There are so many inspiring people, clinically and in education. I could not name them all.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the profession?

Be sure the career is right for you because you will encounter difficult life circumstances. I found great value in having some work experience before entering nursing.

What keeps you awake?


What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Seeing students I have taught progressing in their careers and making a difference to people’s lives. I hope I have had some part in their development.

What’s your proudest achievement?

One thing that made me smile was a community psychiatric nurse who approached me and thanked me for helping him complete his degree studies. He had used some of the articles that I had published. This had helped him to set up a new service.

What do you think will change nursing in the next decade?

With the move to primary care led funding, there will be increasing opportunities to work in this sector. There will be far more third sector provision and nurses will therefore have less NHS employment.

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

Most likely a history teacher. As a fantasy, I would have liked to have played football for Leeds United.

Be sure a nursing career is right for you. I found great value in having some work experience before entering the profession

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

The same job but with a weekly clinical input.

What makes a good nurse?

First, someone who is caring and competent. Second, someone who can keep the commitment to patient-centred approaches, no matter the circumstances. Third, the ability to communicate well.

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

The physical healthcare provision for mental health service users. Service users die 10-15 years earlier than the general population from preventable physical health problems. Both primary and acute care sectors need to address this issue.

What is your ideal weekend?

Walking or cycling in the North York Moors then enjoying the company of my family.

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

Barack Obama. He is trying to change the healthcare experience of many poor people in the US for the better. I would ask him what it is like to be the first black president. He has moved the goal posts.

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