We talk to Michele Allott, deputy director of nursing and patient safety at Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, who has been a nurse for 28 years.
Why did you become a nurse?
I always wanted to work with people and had thought about probation work, nanny (for the rich and famous) and social work before deciding on mental health nursing. From the day I began training I have never wanted to do anything different.
Where did you train?
Pen-y-Fal Hospital in Abergavenney in South Wales.
What was your first job?
On an adult acute admission ward at Maindiff Court in Abergavenney. On my first day, the charge nurse handed me the keys and told me he was on leave for a month; it was a fast and steep learning curve.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
I can get distracted so become involved in many projects, which can require lots of juggling.
From whom have you learnt the most in your career?
An early influence was Jack Jones, a charge nurse who was kindness and calmness personified, and recognised the effect of a well-supported team on care. We also learn invaluable information from service users.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Think about why you are in nursing, and remember that daily. You may take many paths but, if you keep those you care for at the centre of what you do, you will enjoy your work and develop. Think about your long-term career and use the first few years to get a well rounded knowledge; try different areas of practice.
What keeps you awake?
My big fear is losing the NHS. The concept of an NHS to many nations is enviable and we should do all we can to ensure its long-term future.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Spending time in different areas with staff and service users. I enjoy supporting initiatives that will improve care. Soon, with director of nursing Roz Brooks I will be looking at implementing a strategy that focuses on nursing careers in clinical areas, not just management.
What is your proudest achievement?
Developing a primary care service in Norwich for people with mild to moderate mental health needs, and working with other agencies on an incredibly limited budget.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
A party or wedding planner. I love lists and organising.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
I may return to something more operationally/clinically based.
What makes a good nurse?
Kindness, compassion, wanting to care and an understanding of evidence-based practice.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
Remove work that prevents nurses from spending time with patients. I often worry about work that can prevent band 6s and 7s from working with staff in clinical areas.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
Relaxation and time. I value not having to watch the clock.
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
Sadly, I lost my daughter when she was 17 almost nine years ago, so I would dearly love to spend an hour with her. It would be wonderful to see who she would have become and how she would have changed.