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'It is very important to empower nurses at every level'

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We talk to Pearl Sakoane, a PGDip adult nursing student at King’s College London, who is training at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust.

Pearl Sakoane

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

I was raised by a doctor and nurse who met during the “struggle” at university in South Africa. They were optimists and strong idealists. Childhood images of suffrage, change and hope remain a part of my conscience and influence the way in which I view the world. It was also those things that influenced my decision to join healthcare.

Where did you train?

I am currently training at King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’.

What was your first job in nursing?

Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, then Oxleas Foundation Trust right before my training.

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

I least like my self doubt. It plagues my confidence.

From whom have you learnt the most in your career?

From my mother. Her career was her proudest achievement and she was a nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It is very important to empower nurses at every level to advocate for their patients and engage in high-level decision making

Tell us about how you won the Edith Cavell Leadership Award

Perhaps my passion for nursing spoke above all else, my desire to perpetuate the incredible work that current nursing leaders have already done and my focus on personalising my patients’ experiences.

How did it feel to win the award?

I was in complete disbelief that such an esteemed panel of judges would see something worthy of this in me.

Is there an area of nursing you wish to focus on and why?

Leadership and empowerment. It’s very important to empower nurses at every level to be able to effectively advocate for their patients and engage in decision making at a high level.

What is likely to change nursing in the next decade?

Maybe as the diversity of the workforce continues to grow, new talent and innovation will emerge. Certainly there will be more leadership opportunities for nurses as we move toward driving integrated care across acute and primary settings.

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

I think I’d have probably become either a singer or a creative interior designer.

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

By 2020 I want to be an excellent practitioner, nursing at an advanced level. I thrive in acute medicine and critical care because it challenges my intellect, clinical skills and judgement.

What do you think makes a good nurse?

I think a good nurse is someone who shows genuine concern for those around them - both patients and colleagues. It’s someone who has integrity as well as emotional intelligence.

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

I would place more emphasis on, and encourage, lateral thinking.

What would your ideal weekend involve?

A beach, great food and the people that make me smile.

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

I’d have brunch with Oprah Winfrey, Jane Cummings and the chief nurse of Guy’s and St Thomas’, Dame Eileen Sills.


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