We talk to Professor Laura Serrant-Green, director of research and enterprise at the School of Health and Wellbeing, the University of Wolverhampton, who qualified as a nurse in 1986.
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
I had applied for medicine but quickly decided I wanted a much more hands-on role in care rather than cure. The advent of degree nursing meant I could follow my wish to go to university at the same time.
Where did you train?
Sheffield City Polytechnic.
What was your first job?
Staff nurse on gynaecology at the Jessop Hospital for Women in Sheffield.
Whom have you learnt most from in your career and why?
Many people. My first ward sister Eleanor Cooke taught me to stand up for your patients and support all staff from “cleaners to consultants”. She was firm but fair. Professor Elizabeth Anionwu taught me the pride and privilege of the nurse academic, the importance of self as a minority ethnic nurse and the humility of personal achievement.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Heads, hearts and hands - that’s what it takes to be a nurse. Always remember that caring for individuals and communities is a privilege. Someone has placed great trust in you.
What keeps you awake at night?
Nothing. I sleep very well.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Working with voluntary and self-help groups to improve healthcare for marginalised groups in society. Supporting new researchers in the UK and overseas to expand our knowledge base.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Getting my PhD in nursing. I became a “real” doctor - and a nursing one at that.
What is likely to change nursing in the next decade?
The focus of care will be in the community.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
International development portfolio in a university.
What do you think makes a good nurse?
Nursing with our head, hearts and hands with a good dose of humility and a sense of humour.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
Breaking down boundaries between acute and community nursing. We can’t deliver good care without both.
If you could spend an hour in someone’s company, who would it be and why?
My mother, Mrs Eudora Serrant, who died more than 16 years ago. She worked in the kitchens of the local hospital. At work with her, I saw the best and worst of how professionals treat support staff. She taught me no matter who you are in healthcare, we all have important roles.