We talk to Jackie Lynton, head of transformation at NHS Improving Quality, who has been a nurse for 33 years.
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
My parents, who were immigrants in the 1950s, taught me a sense of community, equality and public service so going into a caring profession was no surprise.
Where did you train?
Storthes Hall Hospital, Huddersfield and All Saints Hospital in Birmingham.
What was your first job in nursing?
I was a staff nurse on a mother and baby unit.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
Feeling frustrated when I know something must be done and I take over instead of allowing people to do it for themselves.
From whom have you learnt the most in your career?
The first patient I ever met was called Blanche. She showed me how to listen and the special relationship of trust between clinician and patient.
Challenge your own practice - you begin to accept things when initially you might have asked “why are we doing it that way?”
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Consistently challenge your own practice and that of others appropriately because, before you know it, you begin to accept the small things when initially you might have asked, “Why are you doing it that way?” Also, everyone should have a coach or mentor.
What keeps you awake at night?
After 33 years I still have far too many things on my to-do list!
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Relationships and valuing people. NHS Change Day proves that where staff feel listened to, they are far more likely to play an active role in transforming care. The key is to empower not instruct, with managers listening to staff and patients rather than presuming a monopoly of ideas.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Helping to make NHS Change Day happen. You start out as a student nurse with every hope you are going to change the world. Some ask whether that will be knocked out of you after 30 years or five or 10 years - does the system wear you down? NHS Change Day is about how to recreate that hope and reignite that energy.
What is likely to change nursing in the next decade?
Nursing skills and practice must embrace learning from the wider world and have the freedom to take action, build shared purpose, connect with others and build energy for change. People need to know how to tell their own story.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
I’d have been an athlete.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
Chief inspirer - I’d like to coach people to be the best they can.
What do you think makes a good nurse?
Integrity, along with knowing and valuing that change starts with yourself. Being aware of that helps you to understand compassion.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
That patients are seen as problem solvers too. By listening more we can solve problems together.
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
Martin Luther King to learn more about social movement approaches in my work. I’d also invite Jon Snow to join us - he asks brilliant questions!