My Career as a Queen’s Nurse
8 April 2022 | Jennifer Bourne QN
I am writing to inform you that I have made the decision to retire from nursing and therefore to relinquish my title of Queen’s Nurse. I feel very proud to have had this title and for such a long, fulfilling and varied nursing career.
I remember when I went for my interview to start nurse training, I was asked why I wanted to become a nurse. My mum was a ward sister and all I had ever wanted to do was be like her and help people. I had no idea where my career would take me in the future.
My journey as a nurse started and my career has been varied, working in hospital and then as a General Practice Nurse in Cornwall and London.
I feel privileged to have spent the last 20 years of my career working in a very specialist field, caring for and supporting women who had Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Following the sudden death of my first husband, a GP, in 1993, I moved to London and began working with asylum seekers and refugees. This work led to setting up a service in 1999 within Waltham Forest PCT, to meet the health needs of women from varied backgrounds who had experienced FGM.
In 2003/4 our clinic won a QNI Innovative and Creative Practice Award for the Care of Asylum Seekers and Refugees (supported by the QNI and the King’s Fund).
As part of my role as specialist nurse for FGM I attended the European Parliament twice to share our work with the EU Network Against FGM. I visited Somaliland with others from the UK to see the work being done to stop FGM. In 2001, I went New York with a UK delegation to attend the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
I was very proud to become a Queen’s Nurse in 2010. The QNI is a wonderful organisation promoting the work of all community nurses, supporting and encouraging nurses in their work.
In 2014, I began work at the Department of Health and NHS England on the National FGM Prevention Programme. As part of the team I was able to work on the development and implementation of national polices in connection with FGM and take part in many workshops and conferences around the country. In 2022, FGM still remains a risk for so many girls and women around the world, including the UK.
I visited Kenya in 2018 and again 2019 with a group of professionals working on safeguarding and FGM. We spent time with a charity called the Divinity Foundation, who work with local Masai people to support, change and to stop FGM and child marriage. The charity has a home for girls rescued from abusive situations and they provide them with education from primary through to university level. I feel very honoured to have been able to support that organisation. In 2019, my 16-year-old granddaughter came with me on the trip. I know she gained enormously as a person from that visit.
If someone had told me at the beginning of my nursing career what I would be doing years later, I would not have believed them. Through my career I have met so many wonderful professionals from the UK and around the world. I feel so grateful for all I have been able to achieve. I went into nursing to make a difference and care for people. I sincerely hope I have been able to achieve this.
Another of my granddaughters is now in her second year at Plymouth University studying adult nursing. My nursing career lasted over 50 years and my mother worked for 54 years. We are very proud to have three generations of nurses in the family.
I would like to thank all of you at the QNI for all your support and encouragement during my nursing career.
Jennifer Bourne, QN