We quiz Sara Owen, professor of nursing, and the dean of the Faculty of Health, Life and Social Sciences at the University of Lincoln, who has been a nurse for about 30 years.
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
My father was a doctor and my mother was a nurse so it ran in the family. I always wanted to be a nurse and didn’t really consider any other career.
Where did you train?
I trained as a general nurse at Guy’s Hospital in London, then did a post qualification course in oncological nursing at the Royal Marsden Hospital. Finally, I trained as a psychiatric nurse at the Maudsley and Bethlem Royal Hospitals.
What was your first job in nursing?
Staff nurse on a gastrointestinal surgical ward at Guy’s Hospital.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
I sometimes procrastinate, especially if the tasks are difficult or not interesting.
Whom have you learnt most from in your career and why?
Gunna Dietrich, a senior nurse tutor at the Maudsley Hospital School of Nursing. She was an inspirational psychiatric nurse and teacher who taught me skills I have used throughout my career. Amalia Gallego, a senior lecturer at London South Bank University where I did my BEd in nursing education. She inspired me to develop a research-oriented academic career.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Make the most of opportunities as they arise. Keep abreast of health and government policy so that you are always aware of the direction of change and can adapt accordingly.
What keeps you awake?
What is the most satisfying part of your job?
Seeing students graduate, supervising dissertations, building up a strong cohesive faculty executive team, and seeing the faculty flourish.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Personally - having my two children. Professionally - completing my PhD.
What do you think will change nursing in the next decade?
Care will be provided increasingly in the community. Hospital care will become increasingly specialised. There will be fewer trained nurses and their role will include a large supervisory element.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
The poor practice that continues in some areas.
What do you think makes a good nurse?
Compassion, intelligence, good interpersonal skills, confidence, and political astuteness.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
A long walk somewhere beautiful, a delicious supper in a pub with a log fire, and staying overnight in a lovely hotel.
If you could spend an hour in someone’s company, who would it be and why?
The actress Kristin Scott Thomas for some tips on how she manages to look so glamorous at nearly 50.