Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more


'Be professional, caring and compassionate at all times.'

  • Comment

We talk to Shirley Coward, matron for paediatrics/neonates at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital Trust, who has been a nurse for 31 years.

shirley coward

shirley coward

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

After some time in hospital, I volunteered there and soon realised I enjoyed the work.

Where did you train?

Rochdale School of Nursing.

What was your first job in nursing?

I was an enrolled nurse on a general surgical ward.

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

I like to be in control of all aspects of my job and not relinquish anything. However, as I have gained experience and have a fantastic team, I am now confident about sharing the workload. This, in turn, further develops senior staff.

From whom have you learnt the most in your career?

I have worked alongside the head of midwifery/head of nursing for women and children for many years and Dr Ng, the clinical director for paediatrics. They acknowledge my expertise, respect the way I work, offer support and guidance, and ensure any decisions are shared with our team. Dr Ng has given me the confidence to believe in myself by encouraging me at all times.

What advice would you give someone starting out?

Be professional, caring and compassionate at all times.

Medical staff training will have an impact on nursing in the next few years, resulting in more advanced nursing roles

What keeps you awake at night?

Work doesn’t tend to keep me awake at night.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Having a great team of staff, who are all committed to achieving the same goals, and continually developing the service we deliver.

What’s your proudest achievement?

Being named a Nursing Times Inspirational Leader 2015. I feel it is a privilege to be named among so many influential people, all of whom have the shared vision of delivering the best care that we can.

What is likely to change nursing in the next decade?

Medical staff training will have an impact on nursing, particularly in paediatrics in the next few years, resulting in more advanced nursing roles.

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

My childhood ambition was to be a maths and PE teacher but this changed after an accident playing sports at school.

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

I’d like to retire from my current post and work part time, offering my leadership skills in a career about which I am very passionate.

What do you think makes a good nurse?

Being caring, compassionate and having a desire to do your best for your patients in a supportive team environment.

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

Improving seamless care from hospital to home.

What would your ideal weekend involve?

Spending time with my three young grandsons and enjoying Latin and ballroom dancing.

If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?

Heather Caudle, chief nurse at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals Foundation Trust. I met her at the Nursing Times Leaders awards in 2015 and was inspired by all the work she has done and what she

has achieved. 

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.