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'Our patients are diverse and we should be too'

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Current nurse and former fisherman, Norman Todd, teaches us about swimming against the tide, starting over, and loving what you do

norman todd

norman todd

“Leaving what I knew and going into something entirely different was quite tough at the start, there’s no doubt about that,” says Norman Todd on his transition from professional fisherman to nurse. “But soon I was learning to learn and I really started to thrive.”

With a master’s in nursing from Queen Margaret’s University already under his belt, Mr Todd is now studying occupational health at Robert Gordon University for a bachelor’s degree. He has come quite a way since restarting his life at 26 years old and now works as an offshore medic in the East Irish sea.

“I had done some volunteer caring positions, and that caring side [of nursing] definitely appealed to me”

According to Mr Todd, the difficulties of starting over have been entirely worth it, if not for the opportunity to learn then for the joy of making a difference and for the challenge itself. “[Going back to studying] was different, I got to challenge myself. Being involved in that caring process and building that nurse/patient experience was so worth it, even as a student.”

Mr Todd’s decision to leave fishing for nursing was partly due to circumstance, but also driven by a desire for something different. “I was working around Shetland Islands. Fishing was getting harder and I had to be away for longer,” he explains. “I had done some volunteer caring positions, and that caring side [of nursing] definitely appealed to me, as did the opportunities for progression.”

“That’s what I love about nursing, there are people from all different backgrounds”

As Mr Todd advances as a nurse, he appreciates his background in fishing exponentially. “Coming from a tough, hardworking environment, I feel like I developed a good work ethic. Coming from fishing, I knew you just had to work hard and not give up. I think I’ve brought that to my nursing and it’s helped me academically,” he says. Plus, Mr. Todd notes that the diversity of his background is not uncommon in nursing. “From the nursing side, having people come from different backgrounds is really important. I think having that working background and having that different life experience behind me helps. That’s what I love about nursing, there are people from all different backgrounds,” Mr Todd explains. “Our patients are diverse, and we should be too”.

Throughout the changing faces of his career, Mr Todd has been a single parent. And, although this has also proved to be a challenging balancing act, Mr Todd feels that raising his son has taught him about nursing, and vice versa. “I think the values of family, and the value of having someone that’s always going to be there is something that I’ve brought to nursing. Having a son, we have to work through everything between the two of us. The importance of listening is something I’ve brought over,” he says.

“The more I looked into this job, the more it sounded too good to be true”

On the other hand, Mr Todd notes, “I think nursing is very caring, there are a lot of ethics in this field. I think those are very good things to teach your son”.

Being an offshore medic feels like an even mix of both avenues of Mr Todd’s professional life: fishing and nursing. “I’m really happy with the job I’m in right now. It’s a nice balance” he says. “After finishing my master’s I was looking for a change. The more I looked into [this job], the more it sounded too good to be true”.

“There are times when it is challenging, but still enjoy it”

Looking back on his path to nursing, Mr Todd offers a piece of advice to new nurses, especially those who are coming into nursing as a second career, “I think it’s to really enjoy the learning. There are times when it is challenging, but still enjoy it,” he says.

Clearly, Mr Todd has followed his own advice and enjoyed all the learning he has been afforded throughout his career so far. For the future he plans to study another master’s in ‘Safety and Risk Management’ at Heriot Watt University. Long term, he hopes to undertake a PhD. On these goals Mr Todd states, “I feel that for me it is a natural progression. I enjoy studying, it’s something I want to continue to do.”

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