“Good morning matron!” – it’s a phrase I’ve never forgotten in my four decade-long nursing career. I think it sticks in my memory because it represents some of the most rewarding days of my working life as a nurse.
As the hospital porter greeted me this way each morning I would blush, thinking what a grand title ‘matron’ is and hoping I was delivering the very best nursing care and support I could. Forty years’ on, I couldn’t be prouder of the career path I chose and the experiences I have had along the way.
Today, on International Nurses' Day (the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth), we recognise the importance of the role of nursing in our communities. It is a day where we reflect and thank nurses for all that they do to restore the health and happiness of patients.
As Bupa’s Global Chief Nurse, I can say I’m incredibly proud of our thousands of nurses who I know provide high quality, compassionate care to our patients and customers across the world every day.
I started my career in the UK’s National Health Service – including four years in midwifery – before joining the private sector, as an assistant matron at Bupa’s Murrayfield Hospital.
Four years later, I was officially named “matron” when I became the director of nursing at Bupa North Cheshire Hospital.
After some time, I moved abroad to New Zealand and quickly realised the wonderful, warm qualities of nurses transcend all boundaries. I spent 18 years at Waikato, a large district general health board south of Auckland, before rejoining Bupa in 2015 becoming the national Director of Nursing and Global Chief Nurse.
I may be biased but if I’ve learnt anything throughout my career, it’s that nursing is more than a profession – it is a passion and a privilege. To have the opportunity to care for people when they are most vulnerable is an incredibly profound experience.
But what makes a good nurse? Resilience is a common strength among nurses. Another skill is empathy, which is very much grounded in nursing. The ability to relate to people and understand what's happening in their world, is very important. Naturally a good dose of common sense and some humour doesn’t hurt either!
I have no doubt a nurse has supported you or the loved ones in your life and left a lasting impression. I encourage you to spare a moment to think of her or him today as we celebrate International Nurses' Day.