We talk to Emma Alderwick, who recently started as a unit manager at a private care home in Malvern, having previously been diabetes specialist nurse for the NHS in Gloucestershire
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
I have always been a caring person and I wanted to use this in my work life. I started as a care assistant in a nursing home and this encouraged me to go for my nurse training. It is a privilege to be involved in people’s lives and make a difference.
Where did you train?
What was your first nursing placement?
On a general adult male medical ward in a city hospital. It was an extremely busy ward with a lot to take in, but I thoroughly enjoyed the variety, and seeing people arriving unwell and leaving fit.
What is the trait you least like about yourself?
I’m a really passionate person but this doesn’t always work in my favour, as it means I can get too involved emotionally. I guess I think at times that it would be nice to be more easygoing, but then that wouldn’t be me.
From whom have you learnt the most in your career?
I would have to say one of my previous line managers. She is an amazing nurse and a fabulous leader. She always encouraged me to strive for the best and supported me through every up and down, and was always there when I needed her for an opinion or a cup of tea.
Even if it is just making a coffee, just the way someone likes it, seeing that you have touched somebody’s day has no comparison
What advice would you give someone starting out in the profession?
I would say that you need a genuine passion for looking after others and their interests. Don’t lose sight of the fact that the basics are so important and that teamworking is absolutely paramount. Be prepared for hard work and some taxing times, but the job satisfaction is like no other.
What keeps you awake at night?
Sometimes it is difficult to switch off, especially if you have had a stressful day. You can’t always avoid taking your work home, but it is really important to think about some coping mechanisms. Discussion with your colleagues helps too.
What is the most satisfying part of your job?
Even if it is just spending some time having a chat or making that milky coffee, just the way someone likes it, recognising that you have touched somebody’s day has no comparison.
What do you think is likely to change nursing in the next decade?
Nurses are in a fantastic position to facilitate good changes to practice.
We may see our associate practitioner colleagues being regulated and nurses may continue to take on extended roles, which might lead to a more diverse profession.
Which job would you have done if you had not become a nurse?
A teacher. I have a real love for teaching and I do this a lot in my job.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
I would like to see more work being done to preserve or find new antibiotic treatments.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
Being with my family and relaxing. I love trying new foods and enjoy films too.
If you could spend an hour in someone’s company, who would it be?
Walt Disney. I would want to know what inspired him. Or Arnold Schwarzenegger. What a career!