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 open to opportunities - there are so many ways in which you can be a nurse'

  • 1 Comment

We talk to Jayne Brown, professor of palliative care at De Montfort University, who has been a nurse for 22 years.

Why did you become a nurse?

My parents qualified as nurses in Leeds in the early 1950s. I grew up hearing all their stories, understanding how much they enjoyed their nursing and how they felt they could make a difference, and I wanted that too.

Where did you train?

I trained in Sheffield at the old North Trent College of Nursing and Midwifery.

What was your first job?

I worked in neurologicalrehabilitation for a very short time, followed by two part-time jobs at the same time, the first in the community and the other in A&E in Barnsley. Sometimes, I’d see a patient at home in the morning and again in A&E in the afternoon - now that was a seamless service.

From whom have you learnt most in your nursing career?

I have learnt something from every nurse I have ever worked with, frequently good but sometimes not so. I used these experiences to help to define the sort of nurse I wanted to be.

What advice would you give someone starting out?

I’d suggest they also learn something from everyone they work with, and be open to opportunities - there are so many ways in which you can be a nurse. Be a team player, and a can-do person, and never be afraid to make a sideways move to broaden your experience.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Making a difference directly by helping to develop people’s skills in nursing or research, or indirectly by doing research that makes a difference to those giving and receiving care.

What will change nursing?

The move to an all-graduate entry profession will affect nursing’s development. Fewer nurses may be employed and there may be more leaders of care, with assistant practitioners coming to the fore. There is evidence that, as trusts look to reduce costs, the numbers of expert nursing practitioners employed may fall and that worries me. We need all the nursing expertise we can find to meet the challenges of economics and an ageing population.

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

I come from a family of entrepreneurs so I think I would have liked having my own business.

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

This one. Developing research in palliative care is an honour but, as a professor said to me, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. We need time to develop high-quality palliative care for all and to share our expertise.

What makes a good nurse?

Humanity, empathy, flexibility, natural curiosity about people and finding ways to make things better.

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

Caring for older peopleis seen as one of the least favoured options for health professionals, yet these people have the most challenging and complex needs. I would like to raise the status of older people and, in turn, that of professionals and others who care for them.

What would your ideal weekend involve?

Spending time with my partner, time in the garden, cooking and enjoying a meal at home with friends and family.

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • Ellen Watters

    Nursing is a great profession with such diversity and the opportunities for newly qualified staff are endless. But we must make sure that we cherish and nurture the truly compassionate ones, the ones who are enthusiastic and keen to learn, and make it clear that nursing is not a profession for those who are going into it for the wrong reasons.

    I was a nurse for over 20 years on the wards, surgical and medical and knew after a while that I wanted to concentrate on those affected by cancer.

    So I left the NHS and work for a cancer charity. At times I feel guilty that I have abandoned the NHS and I sometimes even don’t feel like a ‘proper’ nurse. But I am rewarded daily by those who use my services who say I am their lifeline and whose quality of life is greatly improved by what I do for them..

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this 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.