An Interview with Anna Harrington

An Interview with Anna Harrington, qualified specialist Public Health Nurse

“The definition of health is not limited to the exclusion of disease and illness, it is expansive to encompass being valued in society, independence, to be fulfilled and happy. Health is broad, containing physical, emotional, social, and mental aspects.

Work, paid or unpaid, can contribute to health. But it needs to be “good” work. Employment is usually the main source of finance to purchase resources for families, some of which will contribute positively to health such as adequate housing, food, and clothing. Beyond this, work is central to a woman’s sense of self and her identity, what she wants to be perceived as being, how she wants to use her skills, strengths, and personal qualities. Work can secure a woman’s place in society due to the appreciated role she plays. This brings a sense of security, safety, and living a life that is worthwhile.

Work can accumulate to become a career, bringing opportunity to progress; financially, accomplishment, skill, or knowledge. So how does this relate to me and my career but also my life? A career is only one part of me, I am also a mother, sister, wife, friend, aunt, volunteer and the list goes on. The necessity to blend as you can see many roles and activities that are contained within a woman’s day to day, week to week, month to month, year to year life. Each role is important in some way to health.

Being recognised for using my key character strengths, knowledge, and working according to my values are the structures that form the basis of activities that enhance my physical, emotional and mental health. Each of these can be used in the different roles that I have accepted.

I’d say that my top 5 character strengths are:

  1. Curiosity
  2. Zest
  3. Fairness
  4. Humour
  5. Courage

In my work and career domain, I am a nurse, a slightly different kind of nurse from one

in a hospital or health centre. I am a Public Health Nurse specialising in workplaces. 

We are known as Occupational Health Advisors (OHA). I define myself by my paid employment because this is something I am proud of. My work role uses my character strengths perfectly and allows me to live my life purpose – to assist others to live happy and fulfilled lives.

I advise both businesses and employees on health, wellbeing and work. This is usually in times of problems. I love talking with people and using my curiosity to gently enquire about who they are, what is good in their life, what are their hopes, what is causing them issues; preventing them from gaining fulfilment and acceptance of life being a sometimes a bewildering mix of difficulties and pleasures. I like to believe that my energy is translated into enthusiasm for the other person’s lives. 

Being interested in them also contributes to their sense of being valued. Fairness and courage are combined in this use and are strengths too! Finally, humour binds people, draws people to you, and can enable easier working. In my line of work, used well, it can enable people to relax and feel more at ease.”

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