Duncan’s Blog: Regional Chief Nurse

Duncan Burton, Chief Nurse for the NHS in the South East, explains what he does and demonstrates how fulfilling the nursing profession can be. 

Why I wanted to become a nurse

I wanted to be a nurse since the age of 15, because I wanted to help people and make a difference. Both my parents worked in the public sector, so I had this influence from an early age. Becoming a nurse was the best decision I could have made.

How my career has developed

I started my nurse training 25 years ago in Swansea, and since then worked in different parts of the country in different specialties including respiratory, neurology, acute medical/surgical admissions, and infectious diseases. 

I have also completed a bachelor’s degree and masters degree during my career. I have had the privilege of working my way through a range of leadership roles and have been the Director of Nursing in two NHS trusts and I am now the Regional Chief Nurse for the NHS in the South East of England.

On a typical day

One of the great things about being a nurse in all the roles I have been in is that there is no such thing as a typical day! That is what keeps it such an interesting career. Days can vary from working with colleagues to deliver improvements to the care and health of people across communities in the South East, mentoring and supporting nursing & midwifery leaders, and the wider development of the nursing & midwifery profession.

How I’ve made a difference as a nurse

As a nurse I know I have made a difference to the lives of patients’ in helping them recover from illness, advising on healthy life choices, and supporting them and their families at the end of life.

I have also had the opportunity to lead all the nurses and midwives in organisations; influence the design and implementation of new clinical technology; change the design of clinical environments; introduce new educational programmes; and change the approaches to care for example for people with dementia.

One of the greatest differences I have made has been developing new and experienced nurses & midwives, seeing them grow in their careers, and them making a difference to even more lives.

What would you say to someone interested in a career in nursing or midwifery? 

Go for it!  They are truly wonderful and diverse careers, which will enable you to make a difference to people’s lives – including your own. I was extremely shy as a young person. Nursing has given me a confidence I never knew I had. I would also say, particularly to men who are interested, don’t be put off by outdated gender stereotypes of nurses and midwives. This is absolutely a career for all genders.