Why did you become a nurse?
I wanted to contribute to improving the health status and life chances of people. It was very simple really. I had originally wanted to be a doctor but after an application and interview for medical school I had a feeling that the more successful I became in medicine the more likely that I would move away from diverse patient contact or influencing community health.
So I withdrew my UCCA application and applied instead for one of the first degrees in nursing at Sheffield City Polytechnic (now Sheffield Hallam University). I started my four year training in 1982.
How has your career developed since you started nursing?
I have contributed to nursing and health care as a practitioner, teacher, policy development and latterly as a non-executive director. My career has afforded me the chance to travel to many parts of the world, working in local and national government, national and international universities, NHS and private healthcare provider organisations, voluntary agencies and community groups.
What does your current role entail?
My substantive post is professor of community and public health nursing at the University of Wolverhampton. I am also a non-executive director at Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust. My role on the board is one of 'critical friend' to the directors and along with my other non-exec colleagues, working together with the Chair to ensure high quality, safe and compassionate care for the people in the locality. The Trust is very large and covers three hospitals and community services as well as a specialist chest clinic in different areas of the West Midlands with a diverse population.
I have also been recently appointed as a non-executive director at the Skills for Health academy.
I have also been fortunate in having the opportunity to work as an adviser at the Department of Health and more recently as a member of the chief nursing officer for England's, Jane Cummings', black and minority ethnic (BME) advisory group.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
The best part of my job(s) is feeling that I am in some way contributing to development and delivery of high quality workforce and care experiences for people in the UK. The worst part is not having enough time to do everything I want to do!
How do you see your role developing?
I see my role developing to have a stronger clinical or policy component. More than ever, the need to use robust research and evaluation to drive, planning, commissioning and choice of services is key. I believe the knowledge transfer and translation opportunities between academia, policy and practice should be optimised. I'm ready for that challenge!
If you weren't a nurse, what would you be?
A politician! I think good policy is the foundation of good care.
What would you do if you were health secretary?
I would introduce more qualitative and contextual ways of monitoring the appropriateness or effectiveness of services. One size doesn't fit all!