Be the very best ancestor you can be

19 December 2017

Abigail Masterson, FoNS Associate Facilitator and Independent Consultant

One of the many interesting things that happens when you have been around in the profession as long as I have is that you get asked to talk to people about your career; an invitation which always provokes deep reflection in me. Preparing to give such a presentation a few months ago to soon-to-graduate student nurses at the University of Brighton, where I am an Independent Governor on the Board, I was struck by the importance of my ancestors in my career; the generosity of the many individuals who have encouraged and supported me right from my early days as a student nurse. Through their actions they offered me opportunities, challenged me to be the best I could be, provided a sense of endless possibility and dared me to think big.

My ancestors include people like the professor of nursing when I was a first year student nurse who asked us – “What is normal?” a question which still guides and challenges my practice today. The surgical ward sister in my third year whose challenging feedback punctured my hitherto arrogant sense of entitlement and made me think long and hard about whether or not I really had what it takes to be a good nurse. The nursing officer who gave me an excellent piece of career advice which I now share with people I mentor and coach and that is always to think two jobs ahead rather than one. This helps you think about the potential of the routes out of the job you are contemplating as well as what it might offer you now.

My ancestors include both people within nursing and outside it. The geriatricians, OT, physio and social worker who I worked with as a ward sister and who supported me both to develop and improve the nursing practice on the ward and the quality of care we gave as a multi-disciplinary team and who fostered and encouraged my interest in teaching and research. As well as people I know personally my ancestors include people who I have never met but whose actions have had a tremendous impact on the possibilities open to me. For example, the visionaries who established the first department of nursing at the University of Edinburgh. We are all someone’s ancestors whether consciously or not and however old or established we are.

Who are your ancestors? Whose future are you shaping today?


Author: Foundation of Nursing Studies

FoNS works to inspire and enable a culture across health and social care that values people, where patients experience care and services which are the best they can be and staff feel appreciated and supported.

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