We talk to Sarah Wheatland, children’s services manager at the Portland Hospital for Women and Children in London, who has been a nurse for 17 years
Why did you become a nurse?
I wanted to be a nurse from an early age. My mother was a nurse lecturer, which had a big influence. I grew up in Africa and many of my childhood memories include visiting the hospital where she worked.
Where did you train?
Buckinghamshire New University.
What was your first job?
Staff nurse on the paediatric unit at the Hillingdon Hospital.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
Finding it hard to say no so I sometimes end up very busy.
From whom have you learnt most in your nursing career?
My mother, who supported me throughout my training and the courses I have done since. She has a wealth of experience and knowledge about all aspects of nursing. She taught me the importance of never forgetting the basics of care.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Nursing is a wonderful profession, which can be very rewarding. You need to be passionate about wanting to give high standards of care and be willing to work hard. You also need a good sense of humour because there are many challenges.
What keeps you awake?
Thinking about my very long “to do” list, worrying in case I have missed deadlines or that I have not done everything perfectly.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Working with a team that strives to give high-quality care.
What is your proudest achievement?
Having been able to progress in my career and getting a distinction in my master’s degree while bringing up a family of six children.
What do you think will change nursing in the next decade?
The need to continue to find new ways of working to further streamline care delivery.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
A job in horticulture - I was very interested in garden design.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
I would like to be in a senior nursing management post and be able to make a difference.
What makes a good nurse?
A sound knowledge base and many skills. These include having compassion, empathy, the abilities to multitask, time manage and solve problems, and good IT and technical skills. Above all, nurses need excellent communication skills and the desire to ensure patients have the best possible care and experience in hospital. A good nurse must care and have the patient at the centre of all they do.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
Improve the financial situation in the health service. This would solve many problems.
What is your ideal weekend?
Time on Newgale beach in Wales with my family and two spaniels. The waves are amazing for surfing and body boarding, and the dogs love the long walks and rock pools.
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
Physicist Brian Cox, as I love his enthusiasm and the way he is able to explain the complexities of the universe in understandable ways.