We talk to Norman Devlin, ward manager at County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust, who has been a registered nurse for 11 years and worked as an auxiliary nurse for 19 years.
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
My original ambition was to become a priest. Testing my vocation, I felt a call to nursing. I wanted the opportunity to make a profound difference to the lives of people who need it most and give a piece of my heart to the patients I care for.
Where did you train?
I trained at Teesside University.
What was your first job in nursing?
My first staff nurse post was working in a very busy general surgical ward.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
I am embarrassed and reluctant to accept praise and recognition. I have a natural modesty because I feel I am doing my job and other people are doing the same.
From whom have you learnt the most in your career?
I have been inspired by excellent auxiliary nurses from the “old days”, right up to senior management – people who have been doing the job for the right reasons. For example, those who never lose sight that you’re caring for a person, not a condition or a patient – and that if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well, whether it is keeping the floor clean or administering the correct medication.
What keeps you awake at night?
I sleep well as I have a great team and when I’m not there, I know the ward is in good hands.
My advice would be to enjoy the academic as well as the practical, and never be too proud to do anything that is asked of you
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Our profession is a privileged one. Learn from every experience and those around you, from all the different disciplines. Enjoy the academic as well as the practical, and never be too proud to do anything that is asked of you.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
I enjoy seeing staff flourish and develop, knowing that I have played a leading role, and am satisfied that patients have had a good experience.
What do you think makes a good nurse?
I believe that a good nurse should be compassionate and professional, demonstrating commitment and dedication to the profession. Good nurses greatly contribute to the success and stability of healthcare organisations, as well as the mental and physical wellbeing of patients.
What is likely to change nursing in the next decade?
The next decade of nursing, I believe, will see ever-changing medical development, a financial and political influence with more strategic planning, all the while holding the fundamentals of nursing as the foundation stone.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
If I could change one thing in healthcare, it would be to have standardisation across the NHS – having one system for all.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
If at work, knowing that everything was going well, or off work, spending leisure time with family or friends.
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
I would love to share all my achievements with my beloved grandmother and to know that she would have been proud.