We talk to Claire Beckwith, acting matron and Trust Falls Lead at County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust, who has been a nurse for 28 years
Where did you train?
I started my training in 1984 in a district hospital in County Durham.
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
I wanted to offer people hope, to share a patient’s journey through ill health and ensure comfort and compassion in both life and death.
What was your first job in nursing?
My first job was as a staff nurse on a General Surgery and Urology unit.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
Talking too much, as I expend energy which could be channelled elsewhere.
From whom have you learnt the most in your career?
This was the ward sister on my final placement in training. Her standards were second-to-none. She was passionate about the profession and had a strong sense of nursing integrity on which she would not be challenged.
’I wanted to offer people hope, to share a patient’s journey through ill-health and ensure comfort and compassion in both life and death’
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Listen, know your limitations and admit when you don’t know something.
What keeps you awake at night?
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
The ability to give someone my time, whether it be a patient, relative or work colleague at the right moment and in the right place. I enjoy enabling a person to achieve their potential.
What’s your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement was successfully resuscitating a patient after a cardiac arrest. They came to visit for the next three years with many bunches of flowers and big hugs!
What is likely to change nursing in the next decade?
There have been major developments in healthcare in the last 10 years which has led to an increased life expectancy. However, the demographic profile of the patient has changed; those who present to hospital are older and their needs are complex. Further, public expectation of care is at an all-time high. The uncertain financial position coupled with an over-reliance on hospital-based care needs to change. As a result, nursing needs to become full partners with other healthcare professionals in planning, redesigning and evaluating healthcare in the UK, and contemporary nursing principles should be used in order to do achieve this.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
A librarian; to be surrounded by books would be perfection.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
Hopefully this one!
What do you think makes a good nurse?
A strong sense of personal and clinical integrity with compassion at the core. The ability to admit that you don’t know is key, so someone who is able to ask for help is vital.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
Some targets that are service- rather than patient-driven.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
This would simply be pure, uninterrupted family time.