Embarking on a career in nursing is a surefire way to give your life meaning
The thing I like best about student nurses is that they want to be student nurses. Call me soppy, but I admire anyone with a willingness not to sleep for three years to build a career looking after the sick.
It’s easy to take this for granted, but I know one or two nurses who quietly shake their heads in disbelief in the face of new students, asking anything from, “Why are you coming into this?” to a more shrill “Run! This place will suck you dry and still demand more!” Such a welcoming speech is usually followed by a short silence and a shy “Thank you, matron”.
Student nurses can expect a lot of advice and support over the coming years. It may not always feel like support but invariably you will find someone is looking out for you, and people will care about how you do, progress and even feel. There will be times that, despite the best efforts of mentors, friends, tutors and colleagues, you may feel alone, inadequate, unable and burdened.
For what it’s worth, that is part of the process toward nursing and can recur long after you have qualified. Sometimes nursing well is also about managing our own uncertainties and discomfort.
Becoming a nurse is one of the only educational processes that challenges our capacity to know, do, feel and be. You need to learn skills, knowledge and ways of managing yourself that move beyond more traditional courses that just teach you ideas or things. And you need to learn how to merge those abilities into the qualities you already have - like drive and compassion - that brought you here.
Some of you may not like it, but most of you will. I can understand the imaginary matron’s warning point above but, for what it’s worth, yours is a good choice. No working day will be a waste and, in the face of the many strangers you’ll meet, you are going to make a difference. Good luck!