We talk to Laura Croan, Northern Ireland’s only lymphoma clinical nurse specialist, based at Belfast City Hospital, who has been a nurse for 12 years.
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
I have an aunt who is a nurse who inspired me greatly. Also, when I was four years old I was in hospital and loved the clinical setting so much I knew I wanted to become a nurse.
Where did you train?
Queen’s University, Belfast.
What was your first job in nursing?
I worked in the haematology inpatient unit at Belfast City Hospital, where I stayed for nine years.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
I work better when I am under pressure so I tend to be a bit of a last-minute person outside of work, which can drive my family crazy.
There’s always room for improvement but we should be proud to have the NHS available to us when we need it
From whom have you learnt the most in your career?
My colleagues in my first ward. We all supported each other and senior staff always took the time to teach and share.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
I was told early on in my training that to be a good nurse you should treat every patient as if they are a close relative. You also need to be prepared to work hard to care for patients.
What keeps you awake at night?
Patients going through a difficult time. Juggling lots of different tasks means I run through my day in my head before sleep.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Getting to know patients and their family. I feel privileged to share their journey with them, good and bad.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Getting my current job and winning the Royal College of Nursing Nurse of the Year Patient Choice Award in 2013. I was nominated by a patient just before he passed away and it was very emotional.
What is likely to change nursing in the next decade?
I think due to increasing demands on healthcare, both economically and with growing patient numbers, there will be ongoing shifts to more advanced nurse practitioners.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
That’s difficult. Maybe I would own a restaurant in Barbados and be serving cocktails in coconut shells!
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
What do you think makes a good nurse?
Empathy, compassion, patience, a good listening ear and being able to multi-task.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
We need to have a wider appreciation for the services available to us. Of course, there’s always room for improvement, but we should be proud to have the NHS available to us when we need it.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
A lie in, a massage, time with my husband and children, a meal and a glass of wine in the sun.
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
I should probably say someone inspirational like Nelson Mandela, but I’m going to be honest and say Johnny Depp.