Monday, 7 October 2013


During a recent eye-opening conversation with a much-loved, long-standing friend, it was revealed to me that she believed me to be brave. ‘Brave for what?’, I asked. ‘Brave for being a nurse’, she replied. I’ve experienced similar remarks like this before, and each time I’ve struggled to make the connection. Upon further discussion, it usually becomes apparent that the reasons behind such thoughts include something similar to the following: the long hours - 'your shifts are how long?!', dealing with the expulsion of imagined gallons of bodily fluids on a daily basis, looking after 'all those drunk patients who end up in A&E of a weekend' - I've never worked in A&E, and perhaps most frightening for them, caring for those who are in pain, or critically ill, or dying.

Whilst most (if not all!) of the aforementioned issues may have daunted or scared me at the beginning, the truth is that I tend not to worry about such things now. Instead, as I fast approach my transition from student to qualified nurse, my fears have shifted to more political and logistical-related issues. Those of you who follow me on Twitter may have picked up on this of late, with my fairly incessant tweeting in regards to the likes of: safe-staffing levels, skill-mix ratios, the underhand and not-so-subtle privatisation of the NHS, the seemingly-endless cuts facing our already-underfunded and under-resourced healthcare system, the avalanche of tick-box exercises that are now an everyday part of the nurse’s role, and, what I have at times perceived to be, a saddening lack of solidarity and support within the nursing profession. All of these things (and of course there are others) seem to me, to be competing and conflicting issues that ultimately oppose what we, as nurses, instinctively and intrinsically value.

I've written previously about my last placement, and what an absolutely wonderful experience it was. My development within those ten short weeks was tremendous - thanks to my fabulous mentor whom I’ve already tweeted and written about rather extensively at this point. However, with that much-needed development and increasing autonomy came the stark realisation of what it is to be a nurse in today’s (internal and external) political climate, and truth be told, I’ve struggled with it ever since.

Hopefully, most of you will have recognised by now that I want to be a nurse for the most simplest and sincerest of reasons - I want to care for people. I'm not in it for the glamour or the money (I'd have to be a fool if I were), or the international opportunities; I'm in it for the patients, nothing more, nothing less. But how much will my pre-qualifying desires match up with the reality of post-qualifying responsibilities in light of all these conflicting influences? Experience and reality tell me that they won't, at least for the most part anyway. At some point in the not-too-distant future, I suspect that I am going to have to try and reconcile these disparities and attempt to arrive at some level of acceptance; if not in the hopes of avoiding a severe sense of disillusionment and protecting my own sanity, then most definitely for the sake of my patients, and that, is going to take a great deal of bravery indeed.

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