Karen Bonner: Head of Nursing for Patient Experience at Guys and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust


Nursing is still dominated by women, with men making up only 10% of those entering the profession. Despite this, as I move up the career ladder in healthcare I recognise that there are fewer women in leadership positions and little progress has been made to address the lack of diversity at senior levels within the NHS. I became involved in the Inspiring Women and Primary Futures campaign to become a visible role model to children and young girls. I feel strongly that having positive role models can help you see that you can achieve anything you want in life with a bit of hard work, grit and determination.

My top tips to achieving what you want in life are, find something you are passionate about, be the best you can be and focus on doing a good job. I constantly think what added value I can bring and remember it is important to inspire confidence in those you work with. Get yourself a mentor, someone who inspires you to see the possibilities and believe that these can be obtained.

My siblings and I are the first generation of my family born in the UK. My parents both emigrated from the West Indian British colonies Jamaica and Barbados in the search for a better life. They were diligent and dedicated to their family. They recognised the importance of a good education for our future and they worked hard extend this opportunity to my siblings and I. As a product of immigrant parents, I was aware of the challenges my parents overcame and I wanted to make something of myself.

I was fortunate to know from a young age just what I wanted to do with my life. I applied for my nurse training aged 18 and qualified age 21. Being a professional nurse means adhering to the code: standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurses and midwives. Entering such a profession carries with it great privilege and responsibility.

I became a ward sister aged 29 and aged 35 I became matron. In 2008 I won matron and nurse of the year at the Trust for my leadership potential and contribution to the Trust values. My current post is Head of Nursing for Patient Experience. I provide strategic nursing leadership in order to maintain and develop high quality, cost effective service for patients, whilst working with teams building clinical leadership to delivery good high quality care.

Be fearless, there are infinite possibilities; life is just waiting for you.