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'My first ward sister taught me intuition, and profession​alism - and never to hold two defibrillator paddles in one hand'

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We talk to Steve Hams, deputy chief nurse and head of quality, at East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust, who has been a nurse since 1996.

Why did you become a nurse?

I was inspired by my grandmother and mother who were both nurses. I wanted to make a difference. 

Where did you train?

At the former Princess Margaret Hospital in Swindon.

What was your first job in nursing?

Staff nurse in a coronary care unit. I loved it so much I stayed. 

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

I’m always late. It’s a trait I dislike in others but, when I am with my team or patients, I feel it’s justified to give someone an extra 10 minutes even if it makes me late for a meeting. 

From whom have you learnt the most in your career?

My first ward sister taught me the arts of intuition, professionalism and compassion (and never to hold two defibrillator paddles in one hand). An inspiring director of nursing taught me the importance of nursing with humility and laughter. 

What advice would you give someone starting out?

Pace yourself and enjoy the journey. Nurses see the entire spectrum of humanity – at its best and at its worst. 

What keeps you awake?

Thinking about the safety of patients and the hope that
no matter the time of day or night, they are receiving care from highly skilled, compassionate and kind nurses. Major pieces of work and board papers also have a sleep-depriving effect.  

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Enabling and supporting nurses to deliver high-quality, compassionate and kind care. The buzz I get when our nurses receive compliments from patients is incredible. 

What’s your proudest achievement?

Qualifying as a registered nurse. I was also pretty chuffed when I completed the London and New York marathons. 

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

The Francis inquiry is likely to have far-reaching, lasting effects, hopefully with a stronger focus on the 6Cs of nursing and a clear recognition of nurses’ roles in delivering expert care. 

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

I wanted to be a helicopter pilot in the army, but I am not good with heights. Before nursing, I was a baker for a large supermarket – I couldn’t see myself spending the rest of my life jamming doughnuts.

What makes a good nurse?

A good nurse always gives a little bit of themselves to their patients coupled with the ability to use their hands, their heart and their head – the 3Hs.

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

Greater integration so care pathways are seamless. 

What’s your ideal weekend?

It would involve spending time with my partner, family and friends – mixed with great food and entertainment. 

If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?

A special man who helped construct the nurse and the person I am today. He was kind, compassionate, thoughtful and inspiring – he was my grandfather. One more hour in his company is all I would want – just to make sure he is OK and to tell him how grateful I am forhis continued guidance and love. 

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