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'Having a good sense of humour and being able to project confidence are really important'

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We talk to Kathryn Burn, project manager of nursing and midwifery revalidation at County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust, who has been a qualified nurse for 19 years.

Kathryn Burn

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

When I was 17 a close relative was diagnosed with lung cancer and I chose to spend a significant amount of time with her as she approached the end of her life. It was after her death that I considered a career in nursing - prior to this, teaching was the career that I intended to pursue.

Where did you study?

University of Northumbria.

What was your first job in nursing?

Staff nurse in orthopaedics.

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

Due to my professional curiosity I sometimes get involved in issues that result in more work.

Always remember that the people you are caring for are having a worse day than you and that a smile costs nothing

From whom have you learnt the most in your career?

Two healthcare assistant colleagues from different times in my career. I believe it was their influences and their sharing of life experiences that provided me with confidence in my ability to communicate with patients and staff, and helped me to develop myself as a nurse and a leader.

What advice would you give someone starting out?

Always remember that the people who you are caring for are having a worse day than you are, and that a smile costs nothing.

What keeps you awake at night?

I reflect on my work day during my 16-mile commute home but the only thing I worry about is sleeping in.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Any feedback - without it I don’t know what I am doing well or what I could do better. Making someone smile also gives me a lot of satisfaction.

What’s your proudest achievement?

Succeeding professionally and academically even though I didn’t have a successful secondary education.

What is likely to change nursing in the next decade?

Decreasing numbers of registered nurses who are completing nurse training.

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

I’d like to be associate director of nursing, progressing towards a deputy director of nursing role.

What do you think makes a good nurse?

Having a good sense of humour and being able to project confidence are really important. You should also be able to give and receive feedback in a caring, constructive and reflective way.

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

I would review skillsets to encourage the development of the registered and unregistered workforce to try to improve staff retention. I’d look at access to nurse training and utilising diploma qualifications as a second level.

What would your ideal weekend involve?

Spending quality time with my husband and children.

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

Jeremy Bowen, the BBC reporter. He portrays himself in a very diplomatic way in often difficult situations. I’d like to hear about his work and understand how he contextualises what he is exposed to.


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