In The Spotlight – Joanna Johnstone

Specialist Health Protection Nurse, Joanna Johnstone.

Tell us a little about your current job

I am one of two Specialist Health Protection Nurses in the Public Health Department. We work locally, nationally, and, at times, internationally, with a big variety of acute and primary multidisciplinary teams, to prevent harm and hazards developing or spreading to the public and staff. It is an interesting, challenging and really enjoyable role, which I love.

How did you arrive in NHS Forth Valley?

I came here via Saudi Arabia where I worked for three years as a Staff Nurse in Family Medicine for the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh. I was part of a team who rotated across seven departments in this US-run hospital, looking after the 10,000 staff and their dependents and working in occupational health, outpatients, minor ailments, paediatrics, travel clinics and medication refill.

Well travelled or a homebody?

I love to travel. I have been moving around all my adult life. I’ve worked for the British Armed Forces based in Germany and the only UK country I have yet to work in is Northern Ireland. My best holiday ever was an African safari.  And, if I hadn’t bought a house this year, I would have planned and trained to trek up to the base camp of Mount Everest, but I’m sad to learn that China has now stopped lay persons doing this. So my next plan is the Rio Carnival in Brazil!

What makes you laugh?

Victoria my work colleague – she is a breath of fresh air with her bright and bubbly personality, a real pleasure to be around.

Pizza parlour or posh nosh?

You have to spoil yourself. I love to dress up, pamper myself and go all girly with heels and a fabulous dress and of course it wouldn’t be the same if you didn’t have good company to top it all off. The best of both worlds I’d say is when I dressed up and ate pizza at the British Embassy in Riyadh to see the Red Hot Chilli Pipers on St Andrews Night in 2017.

Bookworm or TV addict?

I used to be more of a book worm, but now I’m too much of a TV addict. However I’ve recently combined the two and I am currently listening to an audio book read by Stephen Fry on You Tube; he sure can bring ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ to life much better than my imagination.

Worst nightmare?

Being stuck on a desert island with only 10 discs. I would be bored silly. I am more of a city bird and hate it being too quiet and not having enough to interest me. That’s why I stayed for 9 years in central London and loved Sydney and New York, they are my kind of towns.

Burning ambition?

I wanted to be a pilot and I even took one lesson at Dundee Airport school after my friends bought me training vouchers for my 21st birthday. It was amazing but at the time too costly. However, as I’ve aged, although I love flying, I hate heights more and more, so that wouldn’t have been a great attribute for a pilot.

Your philosophy on life?

If you can, face your fears. I used to be afraid of deep dark water until I learned to scuba dive in Malta. I now have my open water and advanced open water PADI courses and prefer to be under the water rather than swim along the top. But in saying this, I’m still scared of spiders.

What people might not know about you?

I did a part time evening class degree at Birkbeck College in London in 2000, studying Roman History and Archaeology. I did my first dig at a Roman City near Cluj-Napoca in Transylvania and loved Romania. I would definitely go back, but this time I would visit Draculas castle!