We talk to Wendy Ness, a colorectal nurse specialist at Croydon University Hospital, who has been in nursing for
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
I remember a nurse showing me my father’s large pressure ulcers and I decided I wanted to influence care and improve practice for other patients.
Where did you train?
I trained as a state enrolled nurse at Westminster Hospital, then did a conversion course to be a state registered nurse at Mayday Hospital, Croydon.
What was your first job in nursing?
It was on a male orthopaedic ward at Westminster Hospital. What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
For a long time I felt I lacked confidence but in my current role I draw on the strength of new-found knowledge and skills to overcome that. I now enjoy sharing my expertise.
From whom have you learnt most in your nursing career and why?
Ray Addison, who was a nurse consultant in bladder and bowel dysfunction. He was an excellent role model, an innovator in nursing practice, proactive and enthusiastic about improving standards.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Always remember the patient must be at the centre of everything you do and good patient assessment and care planning is vital to ensure the correct treatment is given.
What keeps you awake at night?
Hot sweats! Occasionally work too, but I keep a notepad at the side of my bed so I can jot down what comes to my mind then go back to sleep.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Seeing the successful outcomes of the advice given to my patients, seeing their conditions improve and enabling them to get on with their lives. Also teaching other professionals about bowel care.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Realising how far I have come: from SEN to specialist nurse in bowel dysfunction. I am proud of how I have developed myself getting a master’s degree, influencing the practice of others and improving care.
Nurses need to understand the importance of professional accountability, and keeping their knowledge and skills up to date
What do you think makes a good nurse?
Someone who has a natural disposition for caring, is empathetic, a good listener and communicates well with others. They must understand the need to be competent in everything they do and never forget the essentials of care to meet patient needs, no matter how high up the career ladder they climb.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
To find a way of ensuring nurses understand the meaning and importance of professional accountability and keeping their knowledge and skills up to date throughout their working life. Education and knowledge give nurses the power to influence others.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
Being on the Isle of Wight with friends and enjoying long walks in the country or by the sea.
If you could spend an hour in someone’s company, who would it be and why?
Florence Nightingale. I’d like to see what she would make of nursing in the 21st century and ask her whether it is what she envisaged it would be.