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How do we measure how far we’ve come?

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I hate it when a song gets stuck on repeat inside my head. Inevitably the tune will be cheesy, meaningless or just downright irritating.

But I loved Rent, the West End musical, and, for days after seeing it, I had a particular number reverberating around my head. Seasons of Love numbers the minutes in a year and questions how many ways there are to measure that time. Do you measure it in daylights, sunsets or cups of coffee, for example?

It’s been a year since I qualified. A whole year of being able to call myself a staff nurse and write ‘RN’ after my name.
I don’t need anyone to tell me just how quickly that has gone – quite how to measure the ups and downs of being a newly qualified nurse is anyone’s guess.

Do you measure it in patients, in care plans or in thank-you cards? Do you measure it in the reflections you’ve written and the study days that you’ve been on, or do you just flick through the great wodge of paper that is your portfolio and wonder how you found the time?

Many were the doom-laden horror stories that I heard about being newly qualified. I heard about struggling through with
no support, of dizzying learning curves, of difficult first jobs.

But I have to say that, although the learning curve is certainly pronounced, I never encountered any other problems. My first
year as a qualified member of staff wasn’t a patch on being a third-year student in terms of stress.

I always liked the lyrics penned by Jonathan Larson, which suggested that we measure in love. Nursing and I didn’t immediately click but, one year after qualifying and four years after first starting out, I think I am finally able to say that I love my job.

Arabella Sinclair-Penwarden is a staff nurse in Devon

Want to read more of Starting Out? Just click on the 'more by this author' link at the top of the page


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