Linda Catherine Pollock
One of the organisers of the upcoming Leaps in the Dark event, Linda Catherine Pollock fell into nursing education by accident and hasn't looked back since.
Linda Catherine Pollock
BSc & PhD Diploma in Nursing,
|Year of Graduation
1974 & 1988
Your time at the University
I chose the Nursing course quite by accident when, in 1971, I worked in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary as a nursing assistant during my school holidays. I loved it so much that I met the matron to find out if I could start traditional hospital-based nurse training. Already intending to go to Edinburgh University to study geography, she told me about the Integrated Degree Course and, after an interview, I changed academic direction. That decision changed the course of my life.
During fresher’s week, I joined the Territorial Army where my friend and I were labelled ‘the terrible twins’! We enjoyed the sociability of our colleagues, the cheap booze and amazing outdoor experiences – skiing, doing assault and survival courses, learning to control skids in land rovers – and all the time being paid! We were never destined to join the engineer corps permanently, but in the university breaks, we worked in army hospitals, which gave us a tremendous insight into life, and nursing in the forces – during the Irish troubles – but that is another story, too long for here.
I was at Edinburgh University when students got actively involved in politics (former Prime Minister Gordon Brown was rector) and there were regular demonstrations on lots of topical issues including demonstrations against Thatcher’s cuts to education when she was a Minister. University opened my mind to an expanded world of politics and exciting thinking.
Working in poor areas of Edinburgh as part of my community experience was an education in itself and made me aware of poverty that I did not know even existed. I also really enjoyed the opportunity to study outside subjects like social anthropology and clinical psychology, which complemented my core studies. In the long summer holidays, my ‘terrible twin’ and I hitched throughout Europe staying in youth hostels and visiting all the art galleries and museums we could that were free. We got to Turkey and back on only £50.
In summary, going to University allowed me, above all, to discover myself and in the five years of the integrated degree course I became an adult and was confident about what I wanted to do. I enjoyed the ambiance so much that I went back to do a PhD.
I had wonderfully inspiring lecturers in Nursing Studies...they taught me how important the patient and family is in the care situation and this focus still underpins the work I do today
Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University
I had wonderfully inspiring lecturers in Nursing Studies who went on to occupy influential positions in nursing worldwide; they taught me how important the patient and family is in the care situation and this focus still underpins the work I do today for the public and voluntary sectors.
My early career was broad-based; I assumed clinical, teaching, and managerial roles before becoming the first female Nursing Director in Psychiatric Nursing in Scotland, in my mid-thirties. I also did a Master’s in Business Administration MBA degree in Aberdeen (completing a final ‘quality’ module in Edinburgh, Business Studies) which positioned me well for NHS management roles that were becoming more business orientated and focused on efficiency and effectiveness.
I was unconventional for a nurse in that I returned to University of Edinburgh to do a PhD in 1987 and published a book on how community psychiatric nurses benefit patients. I have maintained this research interest career-long, with Research and Development (R&D) Director and strategy development roles in service before retiring in 2006; I currently do research work for charities with which I work.
I was a Nursing Director and assumed leadership and ambassadorial roles in the public sector for more than half my career. The original integrated degree course encouraged me to question the status quo, drive innovation and change – maybe why I became a manager, and occupy Trustee and Board level roles now. My passion, ceaselessly, has been to develop community and primary care services – still my rallying cry today, as Vice Chair of the Queens Nursing Institute (a charity that promotes excellence in community nursing)!
Enjoy the freedom you have as a student and make the most of it...
Leaps in the Dark
Nursing graduates from the University of Edinburgh have become prominent academics, policy makers and innovative practitioners making a national and international impact. The alumni event ‘Leaps in the Dark’ on 4 November 2016 brings together this diverse group of nursing graduates in a mix of plenaries and workshops to document the ‘leaps’ taken by individuals and groups during each of the six decades of our history. There will also be a dedicated session at the Royal College of Nursing International Nursing Research Conference on 6-8 April 2016 for alumni to attend plus a session to be run by current students.
Visit the Leaps in the dark website for more information and to book.