My job

‘Nursing is where I belong, it’s integral to being me’

School nurse Clare Squires explains why juggling lots of demands in a short amount of time is key to her role
Clare Squires

Clare Squires is a school nurse for St Martins Hospital in Bath. She works with pupils, parents, carers and teachers, offering support and advice on a range of issues from obesity to sexual health.

She carries out immunisations and screening programmes, manages medical conditions and is a member of the child protection team.

Why did you become a childrens nurse?

When I was training in the 1980s everyone did a paediatric placement and mine was on an orthopaedic childrens ward.

Many of the children were essentially well children that were marooned in the beds. The atmosphere was markedly lighter than other wards and I realised that childrens nursing was the place for me.

What might you have done otherwise?

At 18 I thought I might become famous for some ridiculously heroic act but failing that I briefly contemplated

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Clare Squires is a school nurse for St Martins Hospital in Bath. She works with pupils, parents, carers and teachers, offering support and advice on a range of issues from obesity to sexual health.

Clare Squires

She carries out immunisations and screening programmes, manages medical conditions and is a member of the child protection team.

Why did you become a children’s nurse?

When I was training in the 1980s everyone did a paediatric placement and mine was on an orthopaedic children’s ward.

Many of the children were essentially ‘well’ children that were marooned in the beds. The atmosphere was markedly lighter than other wards and I realised that children’s nursing was the place for me.

What might you have done otherwise?

At 18 I thought I might become famous for some ridiculously heroic act but failing that I briefly contemplated social work.

Where have you worked previously?

Southampton General, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Leicester, Bath. I have also worked abroad as a nanny in Europe and camp nurse in New York.

What do you enjoy most about it?

The variety, the autonomy and the opportunity to make a difference. I would be lying if I didn’t say the people I work with. After having children, I did a return to practice course at York University where I was placed with the district nursing team.

I ended up visiting older people in remote locations, pushing the district nurse’s car out of snowdrifts and singing along to the radio with her, laughing our heads off and discussing our work. I thought ‘it’s good to be back, nursing is where I belong, it’s integral to being me’.

What is the greatest challenge?

Juggling lots of demands in a short amount of allocated hours.

What could you change if you could?

I would eradicate childhood obesity. I am concerned for the health of the younger generation. An increasingly sedentary life and the abundance of unhealthy food choices makes it difficult for them to make good lifestyle choices.

I also want us to think more intelligently about screen time.

The 24-hour access to countless images of beautiful people plays havoc with a young person’s self-esteem, online gaming can be addictive and porn is distorting our perceptions of sex.

I wish for a world where ideas are shared but one that can also protect our young people from knowing too much at too young an age.

Where would you like to be in five years’ time?

Exactly where I am now, I have no ambition but to keep enjoying what I am doing.

What qualities do you think a good children’s nurse should possess?

Essentially to like children, enjoy spending time with them, to be intuitive, curious and have a good sense of humour – you definitely need it to teach sex education.

What inspires you?

People I know, like my parents, who showed me how to parent, and people I don’t know like Alex Timpson who fostered 90 children over 30 years or writer Sue Townsend for her accurate portrayal of social deprivation.

Outside work what do you enjoy doing?

Lots of sport, netball, running, skiing. I am lucky that I can ride my bike to some of my schools along a canal path so I can exercise while I am at work.

I also like reading, writing poetry (more Pam Ayres than Dylan Thomas) and drinking wine.

What achievement are you proudest of?

Having three children and finding a man who quite likes me.

What advice would you give a newly qualified children’s nurse?

To make sure you really enjoy your job, because that way you are much more likely to be good at it. 

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