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'Choose nursing as a profession for the right reasons'


We talk to Sonia Rangi Wijesundare, community diabetes specialist nurse at Central London Community Healthcare Trust, who qualified as a nurse in 2002.

Why did you become a nurse?

I was inspired by my mother who was a surgical nurse and a midwife. But it was my son who motivated me to join a Bupa care home in Dartford as a healthcare assistant. This really made me understand that it is such a privilege to care for someone who needs your help.

Where did you train?

University of Greenwich.

What was your first job in nursing?

Junior staff nurse at Barts and the London Trust in acute cardiology and coronary care - an inspiring and exciting environment.

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

Looking back, I see things that I could have done better and I continue to improve each day.

From whom have you learnt most in your nursing career?

From my patients. They can provide the true picture about the quality of my performance. I’ve also learnt from Claire Wilson who supported me to become a diabetes specialist nurse and Grace Vanterpool who is my mentor. I admire her drive and commitment to improving diabetes nursing practice locally and nationally.

What advice would you give someone starting out?

Choose nursing as a profession for the right reasons. You learn best from your patients. Never compromise patient care. Be curious and ask questions.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

The one-to-one contact I have with patients and their families constantly reminds me why I have to do my best. It’s satisfying to hear that they have had a good experience with our service.

What is your proudest achievement?

I have two. The first one is having two children who support everything I do. The second is winning a Mary Seacole service development award in October 2011.

What do you think will change nursing in the next decade?

Expansion of nursing roles and more opportunities for professional development.

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

A professional gardener.

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

A leadership role. I would also like to do more volunteer work.

What makes a good nurse?

Having drive, empathy, energy, commitment and compassion. Being able to go the extra mile for the patient.

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

Get rid of the paperwork and focus more on patient safety and dignity.

What is your ideal weekend?

Spending time with my two children and Poppy the dog, and a nice long telephone chat to my mother in Sri Lanka on Saturday morning. Lots of gardening and fellowship at my church on Sunday.

If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?

Mary Seacole, because she was an extraordinary and inspiring nurse who overcame prejudice. She was selfless and demonstrated courage and commitment to make a difference for patients in very difficult circumstances.


Readers' comments (15)

  • I hope people do choose nursing for the right reasons. I also hope nursing chooses people for the right reasons, not just academic acolade.

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  • ingchoosing nursing is not an easy decision, we don't do it for the money, it takes a dedicated and resilient individual. I admire you for being open and honest. The amount of managers reading this can see that it's not just me who puts my children first and closely followed by work. Many of us face negativity when I say my children 'personal life' comes first. It's about the whole package, managers need to work with their staff holistically A good manager also should have a family. Instead of being down right offensive. Reading this was a breath of fresh air. The academic acolade is responsible for highlighting errors that doctors make on their iv prescriptions

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  • Your comment where you state that managers should have a family is discriminatory and offensive to some excellent managers who do not have one! Not everybody is free to pick and chose in this life and this should not exclude them from certain jobs.

    Your last sentence is unclear. An academic accolade (spelt with a double 'c') is an award for a achievement so I am not sure who you believe is responsible for highlighting doctors errors, and why iv prescriptions in particular.

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  • I think a good manager should understand that those with families do put their children before their career. There are indeed excellent managers but also terrible managers. The comment above this has no purpose here, simples.

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  • "A good manager also should have a family."

    so those who are unfortunate enough not to have a family should not be managers as they would be bad managers,allegedly because they would fail to understand those who do?

    managers who unfortunate not to have families, possibly through no fault or choice of their own, have no rights to have their own interests taken into consideration?

    a comment which challenges this discrimination against these unfortunate managers without families has no place here?


    It is a wonder that these poor unfortunates who obviously make poor managers as a result of this have a place in nursing at all!

    this is truly mind blowing!

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  • I would just like to say - without a witch hunt - that managers, in my experience deliver a more dynamic and innovative approach to staffing issues when they have insight into family life. Having insight due to maintaining family and work balance enhances team work, morale, values, worth. I agree that the best managers also have families because they acknowledge the factors that contribute to staff performance and stressors. If you place a member of staff on a late shift and due to short staffing expect them to cover part of a night shift until cover arrives , it will have an effect upon that staff nurse and her family. If managers looked after their staff well being and followed the new 'well being' policy then they would perform better and suffer less burn outs. Why should staff be penalised for saying they put their family first? I do. . . do I deserve derogatory comments too?

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  • ...because staff who have no family and who have worked for long years 100% are penalised by having to work all the hours nobody else wants to because the others have family and children and can't, and many of them only work part time. surely everybody's needs should be taken into consideration and treated equally.

    one could equally well argue that no managers should have families as those who do fail to understand and take into consideration those who do not!

    according to these criteria and not having a family I would very obviously be judged by readers here as a crap manager with no dynamic and no insight into family life. my ability to care for all member of my staff and treat them fairly and equally as well as offer my patients hands on care of to the best of my ability is obviously of little importance. Maybe I should just leave as I obviously should not be here!

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  • further to my comment above, those without families through no fault or choice of their own, get a little tired of having those who do and their needs and priorities rammed down their throats. every nurse has a right to their own free time and their private life and this should be mutually respected!

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  • Didn't take long for this one to get quite confrontational, did it !

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  • Those who don't have children are not penalised at all. The opinion of those who do is valid in its own right and also deserves respect. The writer also has a right to expose the negative experience that many others are facing right now. If you are confrontational here I dread to think how you deal with issues face to face. Staff nurses need to be considered, respected and valued for what they sacrifice in their lives to maintain their career. New shift patterns mean longer hours. Before a 12 hour shift consider childcare and at the end of that shift consider the time of night it finishes. The nhs benefits but it's children who miss out. This is a valid point which unions and the rcn are addressing. The above article is indeed a breath of fresh air and the success this nurse has achieved whilst bringing up a family gives other nurses inspiration. Confrontation comments like this discuss me. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

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