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Get some support and enjoy training for one of the best jobs in the world

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We talk to Sam Foster, chief nurse at Heart of England Foundation Trust, who qualified in 1994.

Sam Foster

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

My mum is a nurse. It’s all I ever wanted to do. As a child, I used to go to her ward at Christmas and wanted to be just like her.

Where did you train?

In Berkshire and at the University of Reading.

What was your first job in nursing?

I was a healthcare assistant in a general medical ward. I was 17 and so proud.

What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?

I am very impatient and dislike much of the bureaucracy that exists in the NHS.

From whom have you learnt most in your nursing career?

My nurse director at Frimley Park, Mary Dunn, who had an amazing professionalism and patient focus. Also I’ve learned a lot from Liz Robb, chief executive of the Florence Nightingale Foundation and Dame Liz Fradd. Throughout my Florence Nightingale leadership scholarship both have inspired me to build resilience and keep going.

Gain care experience before you apply for nursing, get some support and enjoy training for one of the best jobs in the world

What advice would you give someone starting out?

Gain care experience before your make your final decision to apply for nursing, undertake a full graduate course if you can as early as possible. Get some support around you early on and enjoy training for one of the best jobs in the world.

What keeps you awake at night?

The unknown - which is why my team do night visits to support our staff out of hours.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Recognising and rewarding compassionate care.

What’s your proudest achievement?

I carried the lamp at this year’s Florence Nightingale memorial service at Westminster Abbey - it reminded me how proud we should feel to be in our profession.

What is likely to change nursing in the next decade?

Changes to our roles at both ends of the spectrum: how nursing roles in many pathways are advancing towards greater autonomy and also how our non-registered staff are developing to deliver more holistic pathways that combine the skills of traditional nursing with the roles of therapy assistants.

What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?

I cannot imagine not being a nurse.

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

The role of chief nurse is still where I would like to be.

What do you think makes a good nurse?

Personal resilience, emotional intelligence, kindness, compassion and the ability to work with many different colleagues and patients.

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

I’d knock down the barriers between health and social care, as this is having a huge effect on patients and their families.

What would your ideal weekend involve?

Family, friends, running, prosecco and no emails!

If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?

Richard Branson. I’d like to hear his view on healthcare, business, how he progressed ideas when many people told him not to. I’d also like to get tips about staff engagement.

Gain care experience before you apply for nursing, get some support and enjoy training for one of the best jobs in the world


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