Karen, Director of Nursing, NHS Education for Scotland

Karen Wilson is Director of Nursing at NHS Education for Scotland (NES). Although she no longer works in a clinical capacity, dealing directly with patients, she is passionate about contributing to high-quality, person-centred care.

Where did your nursing journey start? Why did you decide to become a nurse?

I always wanted to be a nurse, although it was working with pre-term babies that drove me. So, becoming a midwife after training as a nurse was inevitable.

Can you tell us what a typical day is like for you?

The best thing about my job is the variety, no day is ever the same. I have meetings almost back-to-back throughout the day. Some of these are national meetings with Scottish Government colleagues and some are with my staff here in NES.

What would you say are the most important skills for a nurse?

The most important skill I have learned is unflappability. As a nurse and midwife, it was important to remain calm, no matter what was happening. That’s still the same over 40 years later.

What’s your biggest career achievement?

There are many achievements that I am proud of but one that sticks in my mind is establishing the Practice Education Facilitator (PEF) and Care Home Education Facilitator (CHEF) infrastructure, a national network of nurses and midwifes that support learning in practice.

This was when I worked in Scottish Government and I worked closely with colleagues in NES. We found the funding and established 100 posts, and it has gone from strength to strength ever since, surviving the test of time.

What advice would you give to others thinking about becoming a nurse?

I would say to follow your dream but have your feet on the ground. It’s a tough but rewarding career.

What makes you smile at work?

Getting feedback that my staff are happy and productive in their work. Life is too short to be miserable, so I put effort into talking with and listening to staff so we can be the best, both individually and as a team.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Making a difference and being part of the huge health and care family. Although I may no longer directly touch the lives of patients, I can see how my work contributes to high-quality, person-centred care.

What empowers you to be a nurse?

I know that I make a difference every day. Not everyone can say that about their job.

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