We quiz Linda Nazarko, consultant nurse at Ealing and Harrow Community Services, who has been a nurse for 36 years and runs her own nursing unit for older people.
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
I was an accident prone child and spent a lot of time in A&E. I thought that the nurses were great and wanted to be one.
Where did you train?
King’s in London.
What was your first job in nursing?
My first job was in neurosurgery.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
My total inability to say no. There are times when I work punishing hours and push myself very hard - but I always deliver.
Whom have you learnt most from in your nursing career?
I have learnt most from listening to my patients. I learnt from Keith Cooper that I was more able than I thought. I have been privileged to sit at the feet of giants including Bob Tiffany, Trevor Clay and June Clarke - they have inspired and supported me and I owe them and others a huge debt.
What advice would you give to nurses starting out?
Be humble - you will never know all that there is to know. You will learn from the moment you enter the profession until the day you leave. Remember that we do not always have the solutions that our patients or our colleagues seek but we can always treat people sensitively and compassionately.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
The ability to practise clinically and teach.
What’s your proudest achievement?
When I became a nurse consultant, I wanted to set up a service that was completely nurse led. I wanted to show that nurse-led services could admit, treat and discharge patients. I was lucky enough to get my present post and have the opportunity to do that. I am proud of my colleagues and the fact that we have treated over 1,000 patients on our unit.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
I’d have been a gardener. I like planning, planting, nurturing and watching things grow.
What do you think makes a good nurse?
Nurses need to nurse with the head, the hands and the heart. The head enables us to work out why something is happening and what we can do. The hands carry out work and the heart enables us to care for our patients.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
I would take the politics out of healthcare. The NHS has had 15 reorganisations in 30 years. Health is too important to be a political issue so I’d set up, with cross-party support, a board of clinicians, policy makers and others who could take a strategic view of healthcare and develop a non-political, evidence-based strategy.
If you could spend an hour in someone’s company, who would it be and why?
I’m torn between Virginia Henderson, a truly inspirational nurse, and Bob Marley, a truly inspirational musician.