We talk to Liz Evans, nutrition nurse specialist at Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust and chair of the National Nurses Nutrition Group. She started nurse training in 1982.
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
I spent a lot of time in hospital as a child and just thought nursing was something I would really like to do. I never changed my mind from the age of 10.
Where did you train?
The Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel.
What was your first job in nursing?
On a haematology unit. I carried out plasmapheresis on patients with a range of haematological conditions.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
I have all the patience in the world with sick people, but not so much with people who put up barriers as to why they can’t do something. My creed is “if something is not right, do something about it. Otherwise stop moaning”.
What advice would you give someone starting out in the profession?
The person lying in that bed is scared, in pain and not in control of their situation. No matter how busy you are or how stressed you feel, remember that. It is not their fault and they deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. A friendly smile works wonders.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Making a difference. Seeing patients get better and seeing all the hard work in educating staff paying off in the audits we do.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Having two beautiful daughters who are kind, thoughtful and generally great people to know.
What do you think is likely to change nursing in the next decade?
I think the associate practitioner programme will really take off and we will see more APs on the ward. The wards will have a combination of RNs educated to degree level and APs. Controversial I know, but it will be a return to the days of EN and RGN. We need both.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
I would love to be a nurse consultant in nutrition. I am hopefully just about to start an MSc in clinical nutrition.
What do you think makes a good nurse?
It is the personal touch, knowing instinctively if someone is not comfortable or is unhappy or scared. A good nurse has to be intuitive. I believe in the art of nursing but, at the same time, it is imperative to be up to date with practice. It is no good seeing someone is in distress if you do not know what to do. You also have to be prepared to stand up for what you believe in. We need more role models.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
I would love the government to really plough money into patient food. Get the hospital kitchens back and running with chefs and dedicated staff.
If you could spend an hour in someone’s company, who would it be and why?
My mum and dad. They are both now deceased, but I would love to see them again and tell them what I have been up to.