Alison Pottle, consultant nurse for cardiology, Harefield Hospital

Can you describe what you do day-to-day?

Every day is different! I have worked at Harefield since 1987 but have been in my current post as consultant nurse for cardiology since June 2000. It was one of the first such posts in the country, so it has been a steep learning curve, and the job has developed hugely in the past 21 years. 

My role is predominately patient-based; I work with a team of nurse specialists running various nurse-led services, including outpatient clinics, ward rounds, and the lipoprotein apheresis unit. My role is broad and can involve anything that the medical consultants, management, and I feel could positively affect the patients, which can mean that there can be a lot to do! It is nice to be appreciated, but it means there are just not enough hours in the day!

What do you like most about your job?

Being able to make a difference to patients. I would like to think that I treat the patients how I would like my friends and family to be treated. Having the autonomy to make decisions and ‘go the extra mile’ gives me a lot of job satisfaction. I feel I have developed personally and professionally in my role and have been able to push the boundaries of what nurses can do. Alison Pottle portrait

What have been some of the highlights in your role to date?

I have set up a variety of nurse-led services. I have been able to challenge the traditional ‘medical model’ of care delivery, demonstrating that nurses can take on a variety of roles traditionally carried out by medical staff and do them just as well!

I work with a fantastic team, and it is really satisfying to see other staff develop in their roles and continually look for ways to improve patient care. I have been lucky enough to receive a few awards for my work, and it is always nice to receive positive feedback from patients. I have published over 40 papers and have been fortunate to present my work in many countries around the world. 

Which part of your job is most challenging?

Even with the challenges we face, nurses are great at finding ways to provide good care. The job never ends, and it can be hard to get a good work-life balance. I’m getting better at it but still ‘could do better!’

What is the best thing a patient has ever said to/ about you?

A patient sent an email to the chief executive following his appointment in the Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic saying that he felt I was:

‘an asset as well as an example to the NHS. I sincerely hope our valued National Health Service will have more Alisons in time to come to provide a world-class health service that will be the envy of other countries’. 

This sort of comment makes everything I do worthwhile. It is lovely to get this sort of feedback when the NHS is under so much pressure and often receives so much criticism. 

Why did you decide to work in healthcare?

I wanted to be a nurse since I was a little girl. I’m not sure why, as none of my immediate family are in healthcare, although I do have two cousins who are nurses. I have never regretted my decision and cannot think of another job I would want to do. When I started my training, I would not have thought that I would get to my current position, and I hope I can inspire others to develop their roles and realise there are few limits to what nurses can do. I really enjoy coming to work, even if the M25 is a bit of a challenge most days!