We talk to Roger Watson, a nursing lecturer at Sheffield University with a background in biological sciences, biochemistry and nursing.
Why did you decide to become a nursing lecturer?
“It happened by accident, really. I had a PhD and a degree in Biology and Biochemistry. I then went into nursing. I came across a lecturing job advertised in Edinburgh that was ideal, so I had to apply.”
Where have you worked before?
“I worked for the NHS as a nurse in Scotland; I was a staff nurse and then a charge nurse at a hospital in Culmarnack, before spending three years in older people’s nursing. I then moved to Dublin and was appointed professor of nursing.”
How did you find the transition to lecturing?
“Hellish! I started on the Thursday and by the following Monday, I was lecturing. I had no preparation and had never taught before. I had hardly even presented a paper before. It was terrifying - a baptism of fire!”
What do you think of the way nursing courses are currently run?
“I would certainly like to see more basic academic content. I think we need a definite biological strand included in nurse training. Currently, it’s taught through identifying clinical problems and this doesn’t always work. We need to get the basics across. I also think there should be a return to the state exam. Every nurse should take the exam on the same day everywhere in the country. This would improve quality assurance as currently there is an awful mess in consistency and it would save a lot of money.”
How do you feel about the balance between academic work and placements for student nurses?
“I think it’s right. It’s always been 50% and still is, despite what they say in the papers. The emphasis should be equal.”
Do you have any funny stories from the lecture theatre?
“Sometimes people fall asleep in lectures - not often of course! What I do is I get everyone to be silent and we point to them until they wake up. I’ll usually say “sorry for disturbing you”. It never fails to get a laugh and they don’t do it again!”