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'Without doubt I have learned most from patients'

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We talk to Debra Jackson, professor and director at Oxford Institute for Nursing and Allied Health Research

debra jackson

debra jackson

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

My favourite aunt was a nurse. I admired her greatly. She always had interesting things to tell me about nursing, and I thought it was a career that would suit me well.

What was your first job in nursing?


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

I can be impatient and sometimes struggle with work/life balance.

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

Without doubt I have learned most from patients. They have taught me so much about the human condition – resilience, bravery, courage and grace.

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

Never be hesitant to ask for assistance if you feel out of your depth, or concerned about the well-being of anyone in your care. Every nurse, no matter how experienced and knowledgeable, sometimes needs help/advice.

  Never be hesitant to ask for assistance if you feel out of your depth, or concerned about the well-being of a patient

What keeps you awake at night?

It troubles me that so many patients in our care still suffer from preventable harms such as pressure injury. It seems bizare that organs can be transferred from one patient to another, but we can’t eliminate pressure injury as a significant source of harm to patients.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Working with talented and passionate nurses and helping them to get the skills and uncover the knowledge that will result in improvements to patient care.  

What’s your proudest professional achievement?

Being named a principal fellow of the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre. This award recognises significant and sustained contribution to translational clinical research that has created a positive impact on patients.

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

It’s likely we will have another level of nurse, and role expansion will continue.

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

Social care.

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

I love my current job and really cannot think of anything I would rather do.

What do you think makes a good nurse?

Qualities of calmness and intelligence, a strong sense of ethics and integrity; the ability to feel empathy and show compassion without expecting anything in return, and preparedness to speak up for patient benefit.

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

We need more nurses across the spectrum of health services to enable best possible care for all patients.

What would your ideal weekend involve?

Time with family and friends.

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

My great grandmother, Mary-Ellen Kenny. She was a nurse/midwife who had 13 children.


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