We talk to Shona Perkins, who has been a nurse for 19 years. She is currently lead nurse of paediatric infection prevention and control (IPC) at Evelina London Children’s Hospital.
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
I was brought up with my grandmother who had epilepsy. I used to help when she had seizures and when she struggled to get around. I was also fascinated by human biology in school and this inspired me to become a nurse.
Where did you train?
Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. I had placements in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and at the Gilbert Bain in Shetland.
What was your first job in nursing?
Staff nurse in A&E.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
I’m a bit of a worrier, which means I can overthink issues unnecessarily.
From whom have you learnt the most in your career?
I have worked with some fantastic people but I must mention Duncan Scott, who was the ward manager on the infectious disease and immunology ward at St Bart’s. Also Sarah Hart, who was the CNS in infection control at the Royal Marsden. It was Sarah who inspired me to become an IPC nurse.
I was brought up with my grandmother who had epilepsy, and used to help when she had seizures and was struggling to get around
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Take a deep breath, remember there is always support available. Speak up if you don’t know something, and get some very comfortable shoes.
What keeps you awake at night?
My two-year-old son.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
When patients can be stepped down from isolation. Also, working with new IPC link practitioners and watching them gain expertise.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Being appointed as a Matron in IPC at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and then the role of Lead Nurse in Paediatric IPC at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital.
What is likely to change nursing in the next decade?
The possible introduction of the associate nurse role.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
Dress making, or I would have joined the armed services.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
I hope to be still working in the specialty of IPC, but possibly doing a nurse consultant role.
What do you think makes a good nurse?
A good sense of humour, taking pride in your role, respecting others and knowing when to speak up.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
Implementing mandatory childhood vaccination. I find it very sad when we see patients with infections that we know are preventable.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
Running with my son at Bushy Park on a Saturday morning and then spending the rest of the weekend with my family cooking and having a blether!
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
David Attenborough – he’s an inspirational man who has seen some of the most amazing natural events on our planet. It would be fantastic to listen about his travels and experiences off camera.