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'Being a person is hard on other people'

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We talk to the head of the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery at King’s College London, Anne Marie Rafferty, who has been a nurse for almost 30 years.

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

I wanted to combine something practical with the opportunity to gain a degree. Nursing gave me the best of both worlds.

Where did you train?

University of Edinburgh and the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh.

What was your first job in nursing?

The job I wanted - staff nurse in the regional vascular unit of the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh on a ward led by a fantastic ward sister, Elise Nielson. She was a graduate and Nightingale.

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

Procrastination. Being a person is hard on other people and often stressful for oneself but I seem to be a recidivist and very slow learner. I’m trying to reform.

From whom have you learnt most in your nursing career and why?

So many role models - cracking clinicians and ward sisters, including Elise Nielson and Angie Dodds. They “knew their kit”, inspired confidence, and were encouraging and supportive. They also had a sense of humour, which is vital in our trade, and were generous with their expertise and praise. I’ve also been taught by some outstanding academics. Nursing is a tremendous teacher about the human condition, a fantastic laboratory for learning about leadership, politics, people and organisations.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the profession?

Every experience teaches you something. Nursing is one of the most challenging and privileged services we can provide for our fellow human beings. It demands everything. You’ve got to do it well but it can be immensely rewarding. Build in your support because there are times when you will need it. Question everything and never give up your sense of curiosity. Reach for the stars and you will realise your dream.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Watching our students and staff grow and flourish. Their talent and motivation never cease to amaze me.

What do you think is likely to change nursing in the next decade?

Money and the need to be creative about everything we do and how we do it.

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

A teacher or a barista - maybe both?

What would your ideal weekend involve?

Exercise, friends and a lie in…not necessarily in that order.

If you could spend an hour in someone’s company, who would it be and why?

Florence Nightingale. She is fascinating and I suspect had a wicked and fun streak too.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • an inspiring article.
    what is stopping us all from ticking like this?
    This, or an article on the same lines, by Ms Rafferty SHOULD GO TO THE NATIONAL PRESS, so that we and our functions are understood better by ALL readers from the PM, minister of health and other politicians down through the general public who are so critical to the patients themselves.

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