We talk to Jo Sutton, colorectal nurse specialist at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital Trust, who has been a nurse for 11 years.
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
I spent all my school years wanting to be a navigation officer in the Merchant Navy but as I approached 16, the thought of being miles away from home for months at a time was terrifying. I did my A-Levels and when it was time to apply to university, I was still unsure what I wanted to do. My mum suggested nursing; I looked into it and thought “why not?”
Where did you study?
Originally I studied in Wales but after one year I was disappointed by the course and nursing in general. I took a break and went travelling. After spending time with people who worked in the profession and my mum being diagnosed with breast cancer, suddenly nursing made sense again. I enrolled at Edge Hill a year or so later.
What was your first job in nursing?
I was a surgical nurse on a colorectal ward.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
Procrastination - such an inefficient use of time.
From whom have you learnt most in your nursing career?
My old ward manager Sister Rose Gielty. She was an awesome nurse, fiercely efficient and with a wealth of knowledge and expertise. She was strict but fair and approachable - although, at times, terrifying. If I was ever admitted to hospital I would want her to come out of retirement to nurse me.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Listen, read, repeat.
People are living longer and getting sicker; throw in a lack of money and it’s clear the nurse’s role will be very different in 10 years
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
We all know why we nurse and the satisfaction we get is from doing the best for our patient. Aside from that, the most satisfying aspect has to be deleting pointless emails.
What’s your proudest achievement?
I am proud on a daily basis to do what I do.
What is likely to change nursing in the next decade?
Healthcare, whether we like it or not is changing. As a profession we are notoriously bad at accepting change. People are living longer and getting sicker; throw a lack of money into the mix and it becomes undoubtable that the role of the nurse will be very different in 10 years.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
I love the job I do now and could see myself doing this for many years. Nursing is a versatile career and there are always opportunities. As specialist nurses we are in a fortunate position - roles evolve and we can change and challenge our own boundaries. Having said all that I am looking at moving abroad and am not sure what the future holds. Whatever happens, though, I have no doubt I will miss my identity as a nurse.
What do you think makes a good nurse?
An awareness of your own limitations, honesty and the ability to say “I don’t know”.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
Targets - they don’t do what they say on the tin.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
My boyfriend, his dogs and our friends.
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
I’d love to spend an hour with my mum because I miss her.