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.