We caught up with Andrea McDonnell, Associate Director of Nursing at Newham Hospital and Barts Health inspirational woman, about her life and achievements.
Tell us how you got to the position you are in today
My mum was a nurse and my dad was a radiographer so coming from a fairly healthcare orientated background nursing was something I naturally fell into. I actually trained as a nurse in St Barts Hospital back in 1992, and when I qualified I found that I enjoyed working at the trust so much that I applied for my first role in the Trauma and Orthopaedic ward at the Royal London Hospital and stuck with this for the next few years. Then in 2009, I had the opportunity to do my Masters Degree in nursing at St Barts and we were actually one of the first cohorts to do a Masters in nursing. It was pretty much Barts Health all the way from there!
Please share some of the achievements you are most proud of
I think the most important achievement for me is definitely being able to maintain a fulfilling career whilst raising my family. It can be difficult at times but I’ve found the way that my colleagues and managers have been in terms of supporting flexible working has been key to me achieving this. One of the things that has inspired me to stay at Barts Health and develop myself is that we are constantly evolving to meet new challenges so the opportunities to learn more skills are endless. After becoming a matron at St Barts Hospital I helped develop the Critical Care Unit and their ECMO unit, something I’m especially proud of.
I’d also have to say that establishing and managing excellent teams, for example 6A at St Bartholomew’s Hospital who have won awards, mean a lot to me. A year ago I had my first article published in a journal about improving how we can care for post-cardiac arrest patients which really made me feel like I was actively making a difference to the future outcomes of people with this kind of heart condition.
What motivates you to make a difference to those around you, and a fairer world for all?
The support of my colleagues and managers when I had my children drives me to offer the same flexibility to the women in my team. Even in the role I’m in now I still make a point of visiting patients and families on the ward and talking to them about their experience of care. Hearing their feedback, good or bad, always spurs me to keep improving the way we’re looking after patients. I think innovation and change is ultimately always a good thing. As a hospital with an ever-changing population we need to make sure we are also evolving to meet the needs of the people we treat. Similarly, I know that to have good patient care we need to ensure staff feel motivated and looked after so that’s another factor which motivates me to ensure we’re consistently evaluating the way we work and how this fits into staff experience.
What positive changes would you like to see in the world for both men and women over the next decade?
I would like to see employers across the board focus more on individual talent and how we can ensure each person’s unique set of skills is supported, regardless of their gender, ethnicity or sexuality. Once we achieve this we will be one step closer to a fairer world for all.