We talk to Karen Jackson, standards and practice matron at Guy’s and St Thomas’, who has been a qualified nurse for 15 years.
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
I wanted to be a nurse from the age of eight. My mum was in and out of hospital frequently when I was a child and I saw the amazing job the nurses did.
Where did you study?
King’s College London with all my placements at Guy’s and St Thomas’.
What was your first job in nursing?
Cardiothoracic rotation. I worked in cardiology, thoracic surgery and the coronary care unit.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
Lack of confidence. Although I appear confident, I sometimes feel like a nervous wreck.
From whom have you learnt the most in your career?
I talk a great deal to my senior managers, junior staff and peers – I learn so much from them all. However, the best advice I had was from a mentor I met when I was a student; they taught me the importance of allocating time to sit with a patient, ask questions and listen to their answers. This helps me know my patients thoroughly and everything that is going on with their care.
When you need to cry, cry – let it out. And when you need to celebrate successes, celebrate big and share those successes
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Be strong, there are lots of ups and downs. Be kind to everyone around you – your colleagues and your patients. The patient deserves the best care possible and you never know when you will need your colleagues’ help in the future. When you need to cry, cry – let it out. And when you need to celebrate successes, celebrate big and share those successes.
What keeps you awake at night?
Not much, it takes a lot for me not to sleep!
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Introducing changes that benefit both patients and staff.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Seeing junior colleagues whom I’ve nurtured and coached developing into senior nurses.
What is likely to change nursing in the next decade?
Technology. I foresee our technology improving and making documentation easier and a more skilled nursing workforce taking on more junior doctor roles.
I love developing new staff and helping guide them in their careers.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
A coffee shop owner and cake maker, or a party planner.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
Still in nursing but in a role more focused on coaching. I love developing new staff and helping guide them in their careers.
What do you think makes a good nurse?
Kindness, compassion and giving your time to the patient no matter how busy you are. Also, listening, calmness and being able to give a good hug to your colleagues or patients.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
Communication. I would love to find a way for us all to communicate more quickly and more efficiently.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
Friends, family, fun.
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
The Queen. I would love to know what she is like to have a natter with.