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NUR Member Profile

Monica Fletcher

Monica Fletcher MSc, PGCE, BSc (Hons,) DipN, DipHV
Chief Executive of Education for Health
Chair of The European Lung Foundation

What is your current position?

I am Chief Executive of Education for Health, which is an international, independent training Charity. Our mission is to improve the care of people living with long term medical conditions, including respiratory conditions, though the education and training of health care practitioners. I am also currently Chair of the European Lung Foundation, the patient focussed sister organisation of the European Respiratory Society.

What are you passionate about in your work?

I am passionate about making a difference to patient care. From the day I went into clinical nursing my aim was to improve the care that patients receive and since moving into  senior management position and running Education for Health, I am now able to achieve this through excellence in education, research and advocacy.

Tell us about a memorable patient or student that you worked with?

Interesting, I remember as a young 18 year old student nurse being asked by a patient 'am I going to die nurse?' I was totally unprepared and felt unable to answer immediately and as I obviously hesitated, waiting to think what I could or should say, the patient who was a woman about my age, answered the question herself and said... thank you for being so honest. I vowed from that day that I would do all I could to improve the communication skills of nurses and I think this ultimately drove me eventually to move into education.

Tell us about your latest or favourite research project?

I have been proud to be the lead author of a global survey entitled COPD

Uncovered: which investigated the economic and social impact of COPD on the younger working age population. The results of this survey have been used in advocacy throughout the globe and raised awareness of the impact of this condition people aged 65 years and below. I am a strong believer that health care research has little meaning if it does not have an impact on patients,  and carers, too often time is spent only on the R
(research) and far less on the D (development).

How do you spend your leisure time (yes, hopefully you have leisure time)?

I love sport and physical activity, watching and participating. I have run five London marathons and over twenty half marathons. My running is what I call 'me time', it gives me time to think and reflect, which we all need. My work takes me around the globe and I try to run in every city or country I am in, which is frequently very early in the morning, before the world starts to wake up. There is nothing like it to prepare ones head for a long day ahead and it also helps to keep me physically fit. At home in England I often run with my two dogs along the canals in Warwickshire, it's beautiful.

Do you have children? Tell us about them.

I have three wonderful step daughters: Catherine and Lydia have been part of my life for over 24 years and Sophie for the last 8 years. No grandchildren, but I am forever hopeful. None of the girls decided to go into medicine or nursing despite their step mother and their father being a medic, they chose careers in teaching, law and management.

Do you have pets? Tell us about them.

I love my dogs! Charlie is a brown chocolate Labrador and Missy is a Collie Cross, who we recently acquired from a dogs home here in England.

I cannot imagine a world without them, I have had dogs all my life and I support a myriad of animal charities. I cannot understand how people can be cruel to animals.

How has your view of nursing changed over the years?

I entered nursing at 18 years and I have had the pleasure of a long and varied career. Interestingly originally I was interested in  a career in medicine, but I have no regrets about my decision to become a nurse and all the opportunities that has opened up for me.  I no longer work as a clinical nurse caring for patients on a daily basis, but my role as an educator and as the head of medical charity, keeps me very close to the profession. Nursing in the UK has inevitably changed during my 35 plus years career, with nurses now being able to diagnose and treat patients autonomously, and to deliver highly complex care. However sadly it would appear not all the changes have been for the better. There have been some high profile cases in our national press which have highlighted an apparent lack of compassion among the profession. This saddens me as I do not believe that nurses of today care less per se , but changes within our healthcare systems, increased burden of disease and complexity of care, coupled with constant finical constraints have put enormous profession on all who work in healthcare settings, and in particular nurses.

How long have you been a member in ATS?

I have been a member of the ATS for over 10 years.

Do you have a mentor that has helped you?

During my life I have had many role models and mentors who have helped me. These have been from within the nursing profession but I have to confess, many have been from outside. Dr Chris Salisbury a Family Practitioner whom I worked with during my early career as a respiratory nurse in primary care, stands our as one of the most influential mentors I have ever had. He said to me one day ' I wish I was a trial blazing nurse practitioner like you, being a doctor is being a doctor, and is nowhere as exciting and potentially influential as what you are doing'.

He was a great inspiration and support to me in my earlier career, as is my husband John now!

What is the value of your membership in ATS?

I have met some of the most inspirational people in the world by being part of the ATS, not just within nursing but within a multidisciplinary context. I have a wide network of friends and colleagues as a result, not only from North America but also from around the globe. The nursing assembly is a warm and friendly group which values diversity and experience.


Last Reviewed: June 2016