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'Nursing isn’t easy, but it is incredibly rewarding'

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We talk to Paula Crick, dean of the College of Health and Social Care, University of Derby, who has been a nurse for 32 years.

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

paula crick

paula crick

As a teenager I volunteered on a ward for older people with dementia. I loved it and wanted to be a registered nurse so I could do more to care for people.

Where did you train?

I was trained (and educated!) at Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport, in general and then mental health nursing. I studied for a degree with the Open University while in the army, then completed a master’s and doctorate in my own time as I progressed through my career.

What was your first job in nursing?

My first staff nurse post was on a male medical ward at Stepping Hill Hospital. I loved it.

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

I talk too much. I should speak less and listen more. 

From whom have you learnt the most in your career?

An inspirational ward sister called Sister Stewart. As a student and a staff nurse she taught me to treat all of our patients as we would our own family and was an amazing role model in caring, compassionate nursing and in being well organised.

What advice would you give someone starting out?

Nursing isn’t easy, but it is incredibly rewarding, interesting and offers an enviable range of opportunities to diversify in your career. 

Nursing is incredibly rewarding, interesting and offers an enviable range of opportunities to diversity your career

What keeps you awake at night?

Inequalities, and the gap between the health of the poorest and those who are better off in our society.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Seeing our students graduate, and knowing they have the potential for great careers.

What is your proudest achievement?

My sons.

What is likely to change nursing in the next decade?

Diversification of the role with more non-registered and advanced or extended nursing roles.

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

I would have either joined the Armed Forces or gone into humanitarian work.

What job would you like to be doing in five years?

This one, with an increasing national voice advocating mental health, nursing and seamless health and care services.

What do you think makes a good nurse?

The 6Cs, resilience, patience, being well organised and having a good sense of humour.

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

I’d make sure that health and care is truly joined up for the service user, from the workforce through to the records system.

What would your ideal weekend involve?

Sunshine, beautiful surroundings and being active.

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

Marie Curie. She made such a difference to modern medicine. Her research into radioactivity led to her being the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize (she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in

1903) – a great achievement for a female scientist in male-dominated world.



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