We talk to Rosemary Cook who has been a nurse for 31 years and is the director of the Queen’s Nursing Institute.
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
I didn’t want to go to university. Nursing was a chance to have a real job as well as getting a qualification. Also, there were some nurses who used to come to my church in their uniforms before duty, and I wanted to be like them - professional, in control and respected.
Where did you train?
Bradford School of Nursing for my initial training, then Stafford School of Nursing for my conversion course.
What was your first job in nursing?
Part-time night duty at St Luke’s Hospital, Bradford, because I had a young baby. I was petrified most of the time, but it was a great job, and I learnt an enormous amount.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
I’m a control freak and it’s unfair on my excellent team.
Whom have you learnt most from in your nursing career and why?
Alison Norman, who was director of nursing at Combined Healthcare when I first worked in a joint post between there and North Staffordshire Health Authority.
She has amazing people skills to get things done while making everyone feel good about themselves. She was a real leader.
What advice would you give someone starting out in the profession?
Don’t let disappointing or stressful experiences put you off. We’ve all had them, and you can survive.
What keeps you awake at night?
Not much. I commute for five hours a day, which tends to make me tired.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Seeing frontline nurses realise they can make a difference to whole services.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Heading up the QNI, an organisation with an amazing history, and a mission for improving nursing.
What do you think is likely to change nursing in the next decade?
The hand off of nursing tasks to non-registered workers, making nursing a supervisory role.
Which job would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
An English teacher (writing books in my spare time).
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
To train and regulate support workers who are nursing patients on a day-to-day basis.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
A walk with the dogs, watching Macclesfield Town football club win a game, then home-cooked supper with champagne. On Sunday, all the family round for lunch, watching Liverpool win a game, and bathing my grandson before bed.
If you could spend an hour in someone’s company, who would it be and why?
Florence Nightingale Shore, a fascinating nurse whose biography I am currently writing.