This year has undeniably been a big year in healthcare, and as a student I can’t say I’m not worried about what awaits me when I qualify.
We’ve had scandals, reviews and reforms and watching them unfold has at times felt like watching my future disappear beneath my feet.
No-one can claim that this course is easy but I work hard because I want to care for sick children and their families, because I believe in the NHS and because I want to spend the rest of my working life providing care to those who need it.
But the news that over 4,000 nurses have lost their jobs since the coalition came into power makes me question if there will even be a job for me at the end of the three years. The latest round of reforms mean our government no longer has a “duty to provide” comprehensive national health services and I can’t help but be concerned that even if myself and my peers get a job at all, it won’t be in the system that we are passionate about working for.
My fears are often reflected by nurses I work with on placement. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked why on earth I’m doing all this when there won’t be any jobs at the end anyway. They tell me that even if I do get a job, it won’t pay me enough to live and I probably won’t be retiring until I’m 105 years old.
They’re joking of course, trying to make light of the situation they find themselves in, but it’s a sharp kind of joke - the type that carries some truth.
The way they see it, they are already in competition with each other for an ever-dwindling number of positions. Annual influxes of newly-qualified, bright-eyed young things full of knowledge and enthusiasm is not what they want. Morale is low, times are tight and everyone seems to feel like they are in a battle.
I also can’t help but look around at my classmates, the people I’ve spent the last year and a half supporting and being supported by. Surely we’ll be applying for the same positions when we qualify? Are these friends potentially future enemies? Should I share that great resource I found for my essay or keep it to myself in the hope I get better marks than them… will that get me the job?
Of course this is not the way I want to think, and I fiercely believe that we should all be supporting each other along this road towards our pins, but it sneaks in there sometimes, unannounced, hiding under my fears for my future.
I’m genuinely worried that the life I thought I was throwing myself into won’t be there when I qualify and it scares me because I don’t know what will be in its place.
Rachael Starkey is Student Nursing Times’s Child Branch Editor