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Ali's path into healthcare

Ali Turner, Benenden Hospital Matron

At Benenden Hospital we’re dedicated to providing the best care, and our patients are at the heart of everything we do. While we can call on some of the latest, most advanced technology and techniques to achieve the best health outcomes for you, our commitment to a quality patient experience also incorporates a more traditional aspect of nursing and care in the form of a hospital Matron.

Ali Turner has been Matron at Benenden Hospital since 2013, having joined the hospital 12 years earlier.

In a series of conversations beginning today, Ali Turner explains how horticulture almost won out in terms of her career choice. We’ll also find out how, the role of Matron in the 21st century is a far cry from the days when the post-holder ruled the wards with a rod of iron.

Ali will also talk about how her role plays an integral part in the hospital’s success, and its reputation for having the time and space to care.

"Nursing was probably not at the forefront of my mind when I was considering my career path and in fact, I simply “came across” the career really.

"It wasn’t even on my radar back then, as there had hadn’t been any particular encouragement from teachers to pursue such a career and, so far as I know, there is no family history of nursing that might have influenced my choice.

"I had no firm idea of what I wanted to do other than to travel and see the world! However, I initially set out as an apprentice potter, and then followed on with a move into the world of horticulture, with a wistful picture in my mind of selling the plants I had grown in the hand-thrown pots I had created!

"However, a career in healthcare beckoned after I read an advertisement for a healthcare assistant at a local nursing home. It was then that my mind very much began turning towards the healthcare route. I decided to apply for the role, to see what it would be like, and I was successful. I loved it and haven’t looked back.

"I loved the older folk at the home I went to work in, their stories and their wisdom and I enjoyed helping them and making a difference in any small way. I did find myself often volunteering for some of the less glamourous jobs and working with the district nurses when they would come in to tend to some of the residents more complex needs. After a while a couple of the nurses, and the GPs who came in for visits, began asking if I’d ever thought about working in nursing. So, I thought, hmm, I might look into that. So, I did! I applied for a place at the University of Brighton and started my training.

"I’m sometimes asked what it was about a career in nursing that appealed to me?

"While it probably sounds a little corny, a nursing career really is about making a difference for people and being able to help; to be able to show kindness and support to someone when they are perhaps at their most vulnerable or lowest ebb.

"Nursing is about being there to support, to look after, to make sure those in your care are well looked after. I see the position as being very special; it’s a real privilege to be comprehensively trusted and to be able to care for people in the way that you would want your own family members or friends to be looked after.

"I love the variety that nursing brings and, honestly, throughout my 30 plus years career, no two days have ever been the same and I love that! I think there’s such breadth across the profession that there’s really something for every interest.

"As for horticulture and pots, although I’ve never lost my love of them, today they’re simply part of a relaxing morning out at a garden centre!"

In part 2 of the conversation, Ali talks about how after completing her studies, she considered the nursing options available to her and then plumped for the job offer that came from our hospital.

Careers in nursing

If you’re interested in a career in nursing, help and information can be found below, or visit our careers in nursing page.

Published on 05 May 2021