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'Push the boundaries of your comfort zone and do it regularly'

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We talk to Rose Gallagher, nurse adviser, infection control, at the Royal College of Nursing, who has been a nurse for 26 years.

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

I was focusing on either teaching or nursing as a career. I got accepted for a nursing course at 15, so that clinched the decision.

Where did you train?

Brighton School of Nursing.

What was your first job in nursing?

As a newly qualified nurse it was usual to have to work nights for a while before being able to secure a “day” job. I worked nights on the emergency surgery ward at the Royal Sussex County hospital in Brighton.

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

The inability to say no to people – I take on far too much most of the time but I’m getting much better at managing this.

From whom have you learnt most from in your nursing career and why?

Jane Kingsbury who was the ward sister on level 8 at the Royal County Hospital in Brighton. She taught me you could be frantically busy but still maintain organisation and give excellent care. She still works in the trust but I doubt she remembers me.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the profession?

Push the boundaries of your comfort zone and do it regularly.

What keeps you awake at night?

Absolutely nothing.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Being able to get out and about, visiting colleagues and hospitals to learn from them and keep me grounded.

What’s your proudest achievement?

Running a mile. I’m not a distance runner – I have always been a 100m sprinter or field eventer so a mile is a huge distance for me.

What do you think is likely to change nursing in the next decade?

The use of technology – there is such potential for healthcare. For nursing, it is more than being able to use it correctly – there is still a patient at the end of it.

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

Forensic archaeologist.

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

Director of nursing at the World Health Organization – or another international organisation.

What do you think makes a good nurse?

Intelligence, a sense of humour and the ability to recognise and use your intuition.

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

Change for change’s sake – we are never all going to agree happily on how the NHS is structured. All these changes, and nothing ever gets evaluated to show if there is any benefit – no wonder we never learn.

What would your ideal weekend involve?

A lazy breakfast with friends arguing over the weekend papers.

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

There are many to choose – but I would begin with my husband.

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