JAN INE BERNS g rew up in the capital and trained as a nurse at the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel in the heart of the east end. After staffing for nine months she worked abroad before returning to a clinic on London's Harley Street. While doing agency work she ended up on a construction site and fell in love with the job.
'In a hospital you have a million and one bosses, and you're just a very jun ior link in a chain. There's a lot of protocol and less direct patient care. With construction I found there was so much I could really do to make a difference.
And I love the people.' The flip side of having her independence is working alone, and she is quick to emphasise that, when in doubt, a nurse should call in the experts.
'We aren't doctors. We can't dispense or diagnose, only treat. Site nurses have to be careful not to run into problems, and that means referring patients on to people with different qualifications where necessary.' Du r ing her t ime on site, Ms Berns has seen many changes.
She thinks safety is taken more seriously than ever before, and combined with better welfare it is starting to make construction an attractive career for young people.
Taking care has also become more acceptable in the macho field of construction.
'The guys know it's not sissy to get a cut covered ? just sensible.' Over the past 15 years she has worked on a number of highprofile projects.
She says: 'When I'm out on site I always get the lads to show me what's going on. It's such an exciting job.'