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'Sometimes there is pressure to have all the answers'

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We talk to Claire Barton, Lymphoma Association Clinical Nurse Specialist, University College London NHS Foundation Trust

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

I wanted to be a nurse since I was 9 years old and watched Causality with my Parents.

Where did you train?

University of Southampton

What was your first job in nursing?

Medical oncology and haematology ward

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

I think often strengths are also weaknesses. I am sensitive which hopefully makes me compassionate, empathetic and aware of people’s feelings. However this often causes me to worry about upsetting people.

From whom have you learnt the most in your nursing career and why?

My ward manager in my first job post qualifying. She was a strong leader, fighting passionately for her staff and patients. This was coupled with amazing compassion to the patients. She was very “hands on” and very “present” on the ward which I think can be a huge challenge in a leadership role.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the profession?

It’s OK to “not know”. Sometimes there seems a real pressure to have all the answers. The colleagues I have the most respect for are the ones that admit their imperfections and aren’t afraid to admit they don’t know.

What keeps you awake at night?

In a busy environment not always being able to give patients the time they need. I wish I had more time to give just call patients adhoc just to see how they are.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

When patients achieve remission

What’s your proudest achievement?

Becoming a non-medical independent prescriber and being Nominated and shortlisted for an Excellence award by patients.

What do you think is likely to change nursing in the next decade?

Over my 16 year career I have seen Nurse’s roles develop and take on roles that may have been traditionally performed by Doctors. I think this will continue to develop. The challenge for the Nursing profession is to add the unique nursing contribution to these roles and not just be replacement Doctors.

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

I would like to work in a panda breeding centre (however this would require a move to China, so maybe something more locally involving the care of animals).

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

Difficult to know, but a definitely a role in which I continue to have lots of direct contact with patients.

What do you think makes a good nurse?

Empathy and compassion. In a busy environment it is crucial nurses recognize and acknowledge how patients feel and do their best to make a difficult time as easy as possible.

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

The politics

What would your ideal weekend involve?

Sun, cheese, New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc and good company.

If you could spend an hour with a famous or notable person, who would it be and why?

Joanna Lumley at 70. Her attitude to life and ageing is inspirational.

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