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'I'd like to think nurses will be vocal enough to control their destiny'

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We talk to Debbie Yarde, senior specialist nurse for bladder and bowel care at Northern Devon Healthcare Trust, and chair of the Association for Continence Advice. She has been a nurse for 28 years.

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

Both my parents are nurses so they probably influenced me, even if only subliminally. I enjoy being with people and it just felt like a logical choice.

Where did you train?

I did a pre-registration certificate in orthopaedic nursing, which you could do then at 17, at the Princess Elizabeth Orthopaedic Hospital in Exeter then did my RGN training at the Royal Devon and Exeter School of Nursing.

What was your first job in nursing?

I was posted back to the orthopaedic hospital as a staff nurse and stayed four years.

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

Procrastination. I absolutely have to have a deadline and no one should expect anything from me much before then. I really admire people who deal with things immediately. I’m sure it makes life much easier.

What advice would you give someone starting out?

Nursing is not an easy option; you really must want to do it. I don’t believe that “nurses are born not made”, but nursing is about caring and, if we can’t do that, no amount of academic achievement will compensate.

What keeps you awake?

All the things I’m procrastinating about.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

When my patients tell me about all the things they can now do because I have successfully treated their problem.

What’s your proudest achievement?

It would have to be between achieving my MA in healthcare ethics and becoming chair of the Association for Continence Advice.

What do you think will change nursing in the next decade?

The government reforms will change healthcare but I would like to think that nurses will be vocal and powerful enough to keep their destiny in their own hands.

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

Probably something related to history, but definitely not teaching it.

What makes a good nurse?

Knowing when to listen and observe but not be afraid to speak up when necessary.

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

The geographical disparities in services that exist.

What would your ideal weekend involve?

If the weather was fine, it would be a weekend away in our motor home, walking the dogs and visiting old castles and stately homes. If it was wet, then reading and making jewellery.

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

I would have a hard job choosing between Raimond Gaita, a philosopher whose work strongly influenced my master’s dissertation, and Pierce Brosnan… for different reasons.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • 'The government reforms will change healthcare but I would like to think that nurses will be vocal and powerful enough to keep their destiny in their own hands'

    I know someone who teaches nurses, and she agrees with my own feeling - that it is very unusual for nurses to 'vocalise concerns upwards'. I have little doubt, that nurses vocalise concerns and opinions between themselves - but to achieve change, one normally needs to vocalise concerns and opinions 'upwards' to one's 'bosses' (or indeed to the RCN, etc). I can't find much evidence, to suggest that most nurses are very keen to do that.

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