We talk to Tara Bartley, an advanced nurse practitioner in the cardiothoracic department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and nursing representative for the Society of Cardiothoracic Surgery for the UK and Ireland, who has been an NHS nurse for 30 years
Why did you become a nurse?
You’re a long time working - it’s important to choose a career that is fulfilling and echoes your true values. I felt nursing would offer this.
Where did you train?
At the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel.
What was your first job?
My first staff nurse position was in the accident and emergency department at the London Hospital. I really enjoyed the role and it proved an excellent foundation to build upon.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
A dislike of getting up on cold, dark mornings. I was made for a sunnier climate.
Whom have you learnt most from in your career and why?
Throughout your career, you experience examples of good and not-so-good practice. You meet a host of colleagues and patients who, along with life experiences, shape the nurse you are. The key is to listen to those around you, whatever their role within the NHS.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Always treat your patients, their family and your colleagues as you would like to be treated yourself.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Day-to-day contact with patients and their families to improve the inpatient experience.
What’s your proudest achievement?
My family - I am immensely proud of my teenage sons. Professionally, being awarded a Royal College of Nursing fellowship reflects all that I have put into my nursing career.
What do you think will change nursing in the next decade?
The competing fiscal demands versus the desire to deliver good-quality care. Patients’ and health workers’ voices should be heard and inform the way forward for the NHS.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
I would have wanted to become a barrister or sports teacher.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
I would like to have developed the practitioner service in the cardiothoracic department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. I would like to use my role as an RCN fellow to influence future practice and development.
What makes a good nurse?
The role is multifaceted and underpinned by kindness and respect for patients and staff.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
Avoid competing political agendas and do what’s right for the patient. We must ensure the health service remains accessible to all with equable public funding to ensure this.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
Some sleep! Time with my family, reading, dog walking and good food with friends.
If you could spend an hour in someone’s company, who would it be and why?
Apart from my family, I would like to meet the leading suffragettes to discuss how they achieved emancipation and changed the course of women’s history in the