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'It still amazes me how poor communication can be between primary and acute care'

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We talk to Kinta Beaver, professor of cancer nursing at the School of Health, University of Central Lancashire, who started nurse training in 1984

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

I did a degree in psychology. I wanted to be a clinical psychologist and thought nursing would provide valuable experience of working in the real world with real people.

Where did you train?

Victoria Hospital in Blackpool

What was your first job?

Staff nurse on a really busy female surgical ward at Victoria Hospital in Blackpool.

What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?

I can be a glass half-empty person at times and I would prefer to be more positive.

Whom have you learnt most from in your career and why?

Professor Karen Luker, head of the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work at the University of Manchester. Karen gave me the opportunity to embark on a research career when others may not have taken the risk. I have learnt so much from her about managing research projects and people, and how to develop leadership skills.

What advice would you give someone starting out?

Always remember that nursing is a caring profession. Don’t let anyone or anything stand in the way of helping people to the best of your ability. It is hard work and it is stressful but it is also extremely rewarding and you can make a difference.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Working with clinical staff and patients in the NHS, and seeing the research that we do make a difference to people’s lives.

What’s your proudest achievement?

I have lots. Getting my PhD, getting a paper published in the BMJ, running the London Marathon, getting to the top of Mount Kinabalu, tracking mountain gorillas. I could go on.

What do you think will change nursing in the next decade?

As we become a graduate-entry profession, we will see nurses taking on more senior leadership roles. This is good for the profession but I hope we maintain a hands-on caring role.

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

Habituating mountain gorillas in Uganda. More realistically, I would settle for zookeeper.

What makes a good nurse?

A genuine concern for people. Being responsive to new developments and evidence-based changes in practice. A desire to keep developing and not to get set in your ways.

If you could change one thing in health, what would it be?

To improve communication so patients are better informed. It still amazes me how poor communication can be between primary and acute care and between different disciplines.

If you could spend an hour in someone’s company, who would it be and why?

David Attenborough. He is a true ambassador for wildlife conservation. If I met him, I would probably not be able to speak as I would be so in awe.

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