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60 seconds...with Garry Swann

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We talk to Garry Swann, consultant nurse in the emergency directorate at Heart of England Foundation Trust, and a postgraduate course director, who has been in nursing since 1982.

Why did you become a nurse?

A careers adviser suggested a pre-nursing feeder course.

Where did you train?

Mansfield and Worksop School of Nursing in Nottinghamshire.

What was your first job?

My first job was my best job. I was an auxiliary nurse at Victoria Hospital in Mansfield caring for older patients.

What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?

I relentlessly push the boundaries regarding nursing and its potential in the NHS. This has been misinterpreted as anti-establishment behaviour to the detriment of my career.

From whom have you learnt most from in your career?

Three or four gentlemen who I cared for as an auxiliary nurse. They taught me how to care and what was important. This has stayed with me and kept me grounded and focused.

The day I stop worrying about patients I have cared for and things I could have done differently is the day I leave my role

What advice would you give someone starting out?

I would still recommend becoming a nurse. It can be the most satisfying and most frustrating job in the world - at the same time. I would advise people to be true to themselves and nursing.

What keeps you awake?

In emergency care, we may have only one chance to get it right. I worry about patients I have cared for and mull over things I could have done differently. However, the day I stop worrying is the day I will leave my clinical role.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Recognising the talented in nursing and seeing them fulfil their potential. I have worked with amazing people who will achieve much more than I have.

What’s your proudest achievement in nursing?

I lead a very large team of master’s-trained non-medical clinicians who will become the next generation of nursing leaders. If I have contributed to their development, that would be my proudest achievement.

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

It is likely that I will continue to have several jobs because I like the contrasting challenges.

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

Changes in other professions are likely to affect nurses more than those in nursing. The dominant position of medicine in the NHS will keep reducing. Nurses need to develop the confidence (and in greater numbers) to take on new roles at consultant and director level.

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

Probably business because I am a bit of a risk taker and enjoy uncertainty.

What makes a good nurse?

Someone who cares about patients and their colleagues first and foremost. I can teach everything else, but I can’t teach a person how to care.

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

Having everyone adopt a “can do” mentality and be less accepting of the status quo.

What’s your ideal weekend?

Time with family and friends, somewhere quiet and alcohol.

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

Barack Obama. He appears to do what is “right” in a very reasoned, moral way, rather than take what is the most popular or the easiest course of action.

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