We talk to the chief executive of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, Elizabeth Robb, who has been a nurse for 39 years.
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
My A-level grades were not good enough to do medicine.
Where did you train?
Guy’s Hospital in London.
What was your first job in nursing?
As a staff nurse on a surgical ward at Guy’s.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
I am a bit driven sometimes and it can drive other people around me mad.
Whom have you learnt most from in your nursing career and why?
Florence Nightingale - it has to be. So much of her teaching and writing are still so relevant today.
What advice would you give someone starting out in the profession?
Smile a lot and enjoy every moment and remember what a privilege it is for people to trust you at vulnerable moments in their lives.
What keeps you awake at night?
How best to attract more sponsorship given the current economic situation.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Seeing some of our wonderful scholars and the work they are doing making an impact on patient care.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Personally, my children. Professionally, getting a publication in the BMJ.
What do you think is likely to change nursing in the next decade?
Nurses will be leading a lot more care that was previously undertaken by doctors. The move to a graduate-entry profession by 2013 will also have a big impact on nursing.
Which job would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
A lawyer. I like to talk a lot.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
The one I am doing now. I have only just started and have lots still to do.
What do you think makes a good nurse?
Compassion, good communication, and being consistent and reliable.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
Politicians should stop reorganising the health service quite so often to allow staff to work in a more stable environment.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
Shopping in Paris. Rather shallow, I know, but it would be great.
If you could spend an hour in someone’s company, who would it be and why?
The founder of the health service Aneurin Bevan. I am so proud of the NHS and I would have loved to have talked to him at the start about his vision and aspirations.