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'I am competitive – not seen as a positive thing in nursing'

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We talk to Dr Ann Hemingway, nurse and public health academic, School of Health and Social Care, Bournemouth University, who qualified in 1984.

Why did you decide to become a nurse?
I wanted to work with people and do something active, as I saw it, not passive.

Where did you train?
In Dorset, based at the old Royal Victoria Hospital in Boscombe, which is now closed.

What was your first job in nursing?
I was a staff nurse on a medical admission ward. I learnt so much but was terrified initially.

What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
I am competitive – not seen as a positive thing in nursing.

From whom have you learnt most in your career and why?
A senior state enrolled nurse called Noleen Jones whom I worked with as a student. She always put the person being cared for first and had a phenomenal knowledge of pathophysiology and pharmacology. From her I learnt how to listen to those I was caring for, put them first, then how to read the medical notes properly – in that order.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the profession?
This job gives you endless possibilities. Be true to your philosophy and make sure that at the end of every day you are proud of what you have done.

What keeps you awake at night?
The current attempts to reform/privatise our NHS, which are informed, I feel, by political dogma rather than attempts to save money.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Doing research and supporting students doing research.

What’s your proudest achievement?
My two beautiful sons.

What do you think will change nursing in the next decade?
I would like to think it would be nurses becoming more independent as practitioners and focusing on promoting wellbeing.

What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
I’d have been a riding instructor.

What job would you like to be doing in five years?
This one. Maybe with a promotion.

What do you think makes a good nurse?
The ability to speak up for yourself and others. And always thinking about, and testing, what is the best way to do things while supporting others to develop.

If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
The social status of different groups within the workforce. The levels of pay and power are unfair and it’s corrosive to team spirit.

What would your ideal weekend involve?
Spending time with my husband, sons, dog and horses.

If you could spend an hour in someone’s company, who would it be and why?
Amartya Sen, the Nobel prize-winning economist who considers economic efficiencies but always with respect to their social consequences. Sen has focused on the wellbeing of those who, in our market-led economies are most vulnerable – those in poverty. I believe this should be the concern of nursing and nurses.

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