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'I have always been passionate about nursing and admired nurses.'

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We talk to Sylvia Duval who is a second year student of learning disability nursing at London South Bank University.

Sylvia Duval

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

I have always been passionate about nursing and admired nurses. The career is rewarding. Stepping into someone’s life at the low moments and making a difference to their experience is an incredible privilege.

Where are you training?

I am training at London South Bank University.

What was your first job in nursing?

I have been a nursing assistant for nearly five years.

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

I’m a perfectionist and don’t like slow progress - it frustrates me.

From whom have you learnt the most professionally?

My patients/clients and their families because they have the experience of their condition. I also learn from colleagues and other practitioners to share the best up-to-date practice and develop myself.

It’s hugely satisfying when those in my care are satisfied with the service I deliver - especially when they say, ‘Thank you nurse’

What advice would you give someone starting student life?

Seek for creativity in all you do and in the people you support. Always make sure you are up to date with the best evidence-based practice.

What keeps you awake at night?

Preparing for exams and tackling my essays, reflecting on my practice and how to develop myself, or planning how best to manage my home and family for the rest of the week.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

When I achieve good grades in my exams and essays or when those in my care are satisfied with the service I deliver to them - especially when they say, “Thank you nurse”.

What’s your proudest achievement?

Undertaking my nursing course successfully and still being a good mum to my two children and a good wife to my husband. It is a huge responsibility but I am doing very well.

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

I would still have gone for a career in health care and considered becoming a doctor.

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

I would still like to be a learning disability specialist nurse because of my passion for this branch of nursing.

What do you think makes a good nurse?

Competence and confidence in what they are doing. They should be caring, compassionate, empathetic, sympathetic and committed to their job. They should have good communication skills, courage to advocate for their patients and speak out when things are going wrong.

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

I would change junior nurses’ wages. I think the pay is mediocre compared with the amazing work these nurses do.

What would your ideal weekend involve?

Catching up with my family and spending quality time with my children and husband.

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

My friend Liz, who died three years ago of bowel cancer. She died within two weeks of her diagnosis - the fastest flip from a bubbling life to a dreadful end I have ever witnessed. She was the most caring person I ever met. Through her I found my passion for nursing; she believed I will make an excellent nurse.


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