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5 minutes with Tommy Dickinson

05 September 2022

Meet Tommy Dickinson, a Professor of Nursing Education and Head of the Department of Mental Health Nursing at King's. Tommy’s unique research contributions overlap nursing practice, nursing history and nursing education. His primary focus is on diversity and inclusion in health care and education taking a contemporary and historical perspective with the aim of improving the delivery of nursing care and education. In 2021, Tommy became the first and only UK-based nurse to be selected for a Fellowship in the USA’s National League for Nursing’s Academy of Nursing Education. We took 5 minutes with Tommy to learn more about his career and life outside of work…

Tommy Dickinson

Please tell us about your recent achievements and what they mean to you

I am excited and proud to have recently been appointed as a Professor at King’s. This is a great opportunity to promote education, particularly inclusive education, within the Faculty and wider university. I am really excited to continue the drive to ensure our students receive the best education to equip them to deliver outstanding clinical care.  

What led you to an academic career? 

I left school in 1996 with average GCSEs, and I was not sure what I wanted to do. My best grades were in home economics and German. So, I went to my local FE college and did an Advanced GNVQ in Hospitality and Catering and A-Level German.

I realised very quickly that working in the hospitality and catering industry was not for me, but nevertheless, I completed my studies. A few months before this, though, I got a part-time job in a nursing home in the village where I grew up in Lancashire.

I applied to do my nurse training in the August of 1998 through clearing at Bournemouth University. I immediately knew there that nursing was the right career for me. However, being the first in my family to go to university, I initially found it very daunting. Indeed, the work I lead at King’s regarding inclusion and belonging in higher education is driven by my own lived experience in this area.

I started as an adult nurse, but I changed halfway through the course to mental health nursing and graduated in 2001. I remember loving the academic aspects of the programme and knew that one day that I’d like to teach.

I worked clinically for five years mainly nursing older people in both the UK and Australia. During that time, I topped my DipHE up to a BSc and started my MSc. I had only just started my master’s, and I secured a lecturing post at the University of Central Lancashire. This was in 2006 and I have been lecturing since then. I completed my PhD in 2012 at the University of Manchester. I have held lectureships at several universities and had the opportunity to teach in China, Canada, Norway, and Finland. 

What is a typical working day like for you?

No day is the same and that is one of the things I love about my job. I have been very busy recently designing and planning the implementation of our new MNurs (Dual Award). I am incredibly proud of this programme and excited to welcome the first cohort of students on it in a few weeks.

What’s your favourite part of your role?

I really enjoy supporting others’ development, whether that be staff or students. Knowing that I can play some part, however small, in ensuring our students go to deliver excellence in clinical care drives me.  

Who inspires you most and why?

The late Professor Annie Altschul. She fled Austria to the UK under the threat of Nazi rule. Here she trained as a nurse and eventually became Professor and Chair of Nursing Studies at the University of Edinburgh and is colloquially known as the UK’s first mental health nurse pioneer.  

Quick fire...

Favourite holiday spot? South of France 

Ideal dinner guest? Victoria Wood  

Do you have a pet? Please tell us about them! Yes, I have three!  A British shorthair cat called Elliott. A miniature dachshund called Oscar, and a wirehaired dachshund puppy called Maggie.

Where is your happy place? Walking along a beach somewhere with my husband, and Oscar and Maggie

In this story

Tommy Dickinson

Tommy Dickinson

Associate Dean (International Education)

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