Lorraine Shaw was the Subject Lead for Nursing in the School of Nursing and Allied Health from 2013 until her retirement in 2023. As a registered nurse since 1987, practicing in a range of clinical areas, her ties with LJMU began in 1992 when she needed a degree to progress with her career and enrolled with LJMU while continuing to work full-time for the NHS.
As the first person in her immediate family to go to university, Lorraine never imagined how her career would pan out in both nursing and academia.
“I was born in a council house in Winsford, my dad was a builder and mum a child minder. I am the youngest of four and I was the first in my immediate family to join a profession and go to university. It was my mum and her friend who inspired me to apply for nursing. Plus, the fact that this was really my only way in 1984 of leaving home and finding somewhere to live. As working-class girls growing up in the 70's we were rarely advised to aim high. My mum however felt otherwise and often told me not to end up like her! What I was motivated most by was the desire to leave the town I grew up in, to explore the bigger world. I never anticipated where I would end up.”
Reflecting on more than three decades of study and work at LJMU, Lorraine recalls how she ended up becoming a student, her student days (and the differences now) as well as venturing into teaching.
“In 1992 after returning from a stint working in Toronto the world of nursing in the UK was rapidly changing, I now needed a degree in order to progress with my career. I enrolled on a Health Studies degree at LJMU as a full-time student whilst also working as a nurse in accident and emergency. I was lucky enough not to pay fees and received a grant. It was a big learning curve, especially having never done A-levels. The staff were great, and they enabled us to grow in so many ways and inspired me to continue on to postgraduate education.
“One of my favourite memories of that time was how we received our final results. They were posted on the door of a building for all to see! We literally huddled together to see what classification we got - data protection would not allow that again. I think being a student at LJMU in that time was less complex, no computers, the Dewey Decimal System in the library was how we found materials, and the timetable was on paper. I was not prepared for the amount of time it took to write essays which I know is the same today for many students.
“Following my graduation, I went up the hill to do a master’s at the 'other' university. Whilst continuing to work as a nurse I also ventured into teaching in further education, shortly after this I was asked to become a sessional lecturer at LJMU teaching on the degree I graduated from. This opportunity arose due to staff having research leave, I was honoured and scared! It worked out well and by 1997 I had become a full time academic at LJMU gaining a post on the Heath Studies programme. This was a real challenge, but the team were experienced and made sure I had opportunities to progress. In those days programmes were assessed by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) and we got 24 out of 24. Something we were all so proud of.
“The faculty I worked in also included nursing and after several years on Health Studies I decided to apply to join the nursing team. This was a whole different ball game. Two intakes per year and a very complex programme. I excelled here, I wrote new curricula, helped to develop the NHS workforce, gained promotion and travelled to Malaysia, Ireland, Finland and Belgium as part of the job! It was dynamic and challenging to make the change to a non-standard degree, it required me to spend more time in practice which I really enjoyed and to work with the NHS partners in a way that was truly collaborative.”
Lorraine was the academic lead for a range of programmes at LJMU and held academic management positions from 2007 onwards, something that was rewarding and challenging in equal measure.
“In my 25+ years at LJMU I went from sessional lecturer to Interim Director of the School of Nursing and Allied Health. I took on this role for a short time, just at the beginning of the pandemic, circumstances meant I was in post for 14 months. This was by far the most difficult time in my entire career. It was like being on a roller coaster. However, looking back, I had the best team around me and our students made us so proud as they volunteered in their droves to support the pandemic. Myself and some other academic staff also went back to practice in order to help during the second wave. I have to admit this was terrifying, but I felt I had to lead by example.”
“I retired in August 2023 but I am still very much a nurse, this is something that never leaves you.”
– Lorraine Shaw
Trying to pick out a highlight from such an extensive career is tricky, but Lorraine has two favourite memories that celebrate LJMU’s long-standing history and passion for the training of nurses and health professionals. The city has pioneered numerous developments that changed the health of the nation forever.
“There are so many memories but one of my favourites is taking our students to Westminster Abbey for the annual Florence Nightingale Commemoration. LJMU was honoured to have students processing and they were so excited to be in uniform. For some unknown reason female students were given a nurse's cap to wear, this was not part of the uniform then. It was a site to behold, they reminded me of myself as a student nurse as they quickly learnt to fold them correctly and pin them safely on their heads. They made me very proud.
“The other favourite was when we organised an event to celebrate 150 years of nursing in Liverpool. It was not until I got involved in this that I realised what a rich history Liverpool and LJMU has, not only the second oldest school of nursing outside London but the birth of the ambulance service. Nursing at LJMU means being in the vanguard, we were one of the first to integrate simulation into the curriculum and the investment in safer methods of acquiring competency is unmatched. We produce nurses that will lead the future of the profession, which is something I am proud to say I did.”
Lorraine retired in August 2023, but is, and always will be, very much a nurse.
“This is something that never leaves you, and as part of my role at LJMU I also worked for the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), supporting the fitness to practice panels. I will continue to support this for a while, but I have found that there are so many other things to do, so I may hang up my hat entirely soon. I have started new sporting adventures; walking football and walking netball, I have a large allotment and I plan to grow more flowers for the bees.”
Her advice for our next generation of nurses, embarking upon their studies in 2023 is: “To learn as much about yourself and your profession so it can be more enjoyable and successful.”
Lorraine is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and taught a variety of topics including public health, nursing practice, moral philosophy, ethics in healthcare, medical law and professional accountability. She has also undertaken research into the student’s experience of teaching and has published on this, as well as collaborating on a variety of qualitative research projects.