How did you get into OH?After a brief stint in operating theatres following my nursing qualification, I moved to a role in A&E. It was during this time that I began to take an interest in what we then called “work accidents”. I vividly recall going to a steel rolling mill, at the invite of the safety officer who was a regular visitor to A&E, accompanying some work colleagues who had suffered a workplace injury. The noise, dust and fumes were fascinating. I remember asking why so many employees appeared to have accidents and was told that it was an accepted aspect of this working environment. It was with this enquiring mind, and a desire to have an influence on preventative medicine, that I applied and was successful in being appointed as a nursing officer at Imperial Chemicals Industries (ICI) in Teeside.
Who influenced you in your early days?One of my early influences was my line manager at ICI who encouraged me to undertake my post registration training in OH at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). Other influential people have been my colleagues in the RCN Society for OH Nursing, such as Paul Lloyd, Carol Bannister and Professor Ann Lowis.
What other influences have been important?During my career, I have been very fortunate to work with some very talented OH professionals, all of whom I have learned from and I have applied their knowledge to my own practice. I would suggest that the highlight of my career has been the opportunity to support the development of OH nursing during my tenure as chairman of the RCN Forum for OH Nursing. This taught me a lot about the challenges of being an OH nurse and the need to raise our profile as recognised and valuable members of the teams that we work in. It was not without its moments and, at times, was like being a politician.
Curriculum vitaeProfessional qualifications
- 1975: Registered General Nurse
- 1981: Occupational Health Nursing Certificate
- 1982: City and Guilds FE Teaching Certificate