We talk to Lynn Young, primary care adviser at the Royal College of Nursing, who started nurse training in 1966.
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
It seemed a good idea at the time. In truth, I was rather determined but cannot remember the reasons why.
Where did you train?
St Bartholomew’s, London.
What was your first job in nursing?
Staff nurse at Bart’s, then ward sister at Hackney Hospital.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
I probably become rather irritated with people who happen to disagree with me. I’m not very good at saying “no” - I must do better.
What have you learnt mainly from your nursing career?
Life is a complex business and people are even more complex. Things are rarely as they seem. Changing behaviour is a huge challenge and culture is everything - it eats strategy for breakfast.
What advice would you give someone starting out in the profession?
Give it a go. Nursing is a wonderful profession with a huge array of opportunities.
What keeps you awake at night?
Reading, when I should be sleeping - eight hours is my magic sleeping time.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Contact with nurses from across the UK.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Being told that I am a great-grandmother.
What do you think is likely to change nursing in the next decade?
Technology, technology, technology.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
No proper job, but with luck, I will be involved in the aspects of health and healthcare that intrigue me.
What do you think makes a good nurse?
As Florence Nightingale said, “give me the character and I will make the nurse”. Tenacity, energy, empathy, stamina and determination - all elements of an excellent character. Sense of humour, intense kindness and good manners are also important.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
Depoliticise - which will never happen - halt the constant destructive and expensive reorganisation.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
Being in Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland with five books of my choice.
If you could spend an hour in someone’s company, who would it be and why?
Elizabeth Fry - how on earth did she manage to have so many children and reform prison life for women at the same time? Tim Vine would also be an acceptable dinner date along with Eddie Izzard. He has a quirky, but also wildly intelligent perspective on life. And I could share his make-up and possibly some of his clothes.