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'Ask yourself: what does this mean for my patients?'

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We talk to Irene Anderson, programme tutor tissue viability, reader in learning and teaching in healthcare practice and a national teaching fellow at the University of Hertfordshire, who qualified as a nurse in 1981.

Why did you become a nurse?

I spent a summer volunteering in a learning disabilities hospital and felt I could do it.

Where did you train?

Bangour General Hospital, West Lothian College of Nursing and Midwifery

What was your first job?

Coronary care and medicine.

What trait do you least like in yourself and why?

I find it difficult to not be irritated when people are lazy or unfussed about doing a good job.

Whom have you learnt most from in your career and why?

Key people who have inspired me include Dr Hildegard Charles and Professor Christine Moffatt as well as my brilliant colleagues on the Leg Ulcer Forum executive. I learn a lot from my students.

What advice would you give someone starting out?

Work hard and take professional development seriously. Read at least one clinical paper a week and ask yourself: “What does this mean for my patients?” Be nice to patients and relatives.

What keeps you awake?

I wake early when something is on my mind. At the moment, it is deadlines for my doctoral studies into competence.

Your proudest achievement?

Apart from my family (I am claiming 50% of the credit for my children), being made a national teaching fellow for my contribution to health education and changing practice in teaching.

What job would you like to be doing in five years’ time?

I would like to use the opportunities in my role and the national teaching fellowship to influence nurses to improve services. If I was working with my tissue viability colleagues, that would be a bonus.

What makes a good nurse?

Commitment and a willingness to learn from and work with others. The ideal nurse is kind, has good interpersonal skills, has a sound knowledge of clinical conditions and cares deeply about the profession and professionalism.

If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?

I would change how teams are developed to ensure that poor practices are managed and good staff not overburdened.

What would your ideal weekend involve?

Family, food, wine, a good book, sunshine and a long walk, in that order. If it was all topped off with not having a briefcase full of work, I would know it was a dream and not real.

If you could spend an hour in someone’s company, who would it be and why?

Sir Gerry Robinson. I like his documentaries about the NHS especially about dementia care and the Panorama programme on the changes to the NHS. He has the knack of identifying the absurd and asking really searching questions about where we are going with care.

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