Claire Bertschinger is royalty In U.K. healthcare.
Claire Bertschinger is perhaps the most famous nurse in Great Britain. The Director for the Diploma in Tropical Nursing course at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, she was bestowed with the title of Dame by Queen Elizabeth II in 2010 for "services to Nursing and to International Humanitarian Aid.”
That service includes working in conflict zones from Afghanistan and Sudan to Sierra Leone and Lebanon. Dame Claire’s work in Ethiopia during the 1980’s inspired Band Aid and Live Aid, among the most successful rock relief concerts ever.
Her life’s work, documented in the 2005 memoir Moving Mountains, includes tropical nursing assignments from Panama to Papua New Guinea. “We slept in hammocks, [built] wood fires, washed and drank from the river,” she tells Nurses’ Station host and Regis Assistant Professor Lawana Brown. “It was very basic—and I loved it! I like a challenge. I give the best of myself when I’m faced with a challenge.”
Perhaps this confidence in the face of adversity explains how Dame Claire was able to perform some tasks in war that go above and beyond even the broad job description of nurse.
“I had to cross the front line to pick up the wounded, resupply the hospitals, give emergency first aid and, when necessary, pick up the wounded on the battlefield because if they were in a no-man’s land, nobody else could go and pick them up,” she tells Lawana in a wide-ranging conversation which veers from the impact of Brexit to nursing shortages in the U.K.