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'Cut out all the politics, paperwork and bureaucracy, it doesn't help'


We talk to Michele Hiscock, deputy director of nursing at Royal Brompton and Harefield Foundation Trust, who has been a nurse for 34 years

Why did you decide to become a nurse?
I discovered my grandmother was a nurse when I was 10 years old. She convinced me that nursing was for me. I never wanted to do anything else. Sounds corny, but it’s the truth.

Where did you train?

What was your first job in nursing?
On a gynaecology ward at Southmead Hospital, Bristol.

Whom have you learnt most from in your career and why?
I have learnt from people at different stages. I have learnt from patients - when I worked in a renal unit, they taught me about the dependency and trust that patients have in nurses.

What advice would you give someone starting out?
Be open to listening and learning from colleagues and patients your entire career. You can make a huge difference to people at vulnerable times - make it a safe and good experience. Nurses multitask brilliantly to the extent that it can be to their detriment as others in healthcare say “nurses can do that”. Always stand up over what nursing is and what it is not.

What keeps you awake?
If I have not made myself clear in advice I have given or a major incident involving nursing.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Introducing something new that benefits patients. Seeing a nurse develop and demonstrate leadership skills. Working with a good team of people who support each other and are open to new opportunities. Hearing that patients have had a good experience in our trust.

What’s your proudest achievement?
One was when I sold the idea of pain control sister at a senior staff nurse interview and was given the opportunity to trial the role three days a week. Within six weeks, the job went full time, and within four months, I had introduced patient controlled analgesia (PCA) after cardiac surgery. This was in 1991, which made Royal Brompton Hospital one of, if not the first, hospital to have PCA by proxy in the intensive care unit as it was attached to patients immediately following cardiac surgery.

What do you think will change nursing in the next decade?
Expansion of nursing roles. The move to a degree-entry profession and its impact on the current workforce wanting to study for degrees themselves.

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

What job would you like to be doing in five years?
Leadership in a nursing role.

If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
Cut out all the politics, paperwork and bureaucracy that does nothing to help care.

If you could spend an hour in someone’s company, who would it be and why?
Simon Weston because of his inner strength, inspiration and determination.


Readers' comments (2)

  • I'm glad you didn't go into PR - sounds like you're a fantastic nurse!

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  • A model which perhaps all of us aspire to when we enter nursing

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