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Listen up: Good nursing needs more than knowledge

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I’m not in the habit of generalising on topics of which I have little or no experience. The media takes care of that.

Anecdotal evidence may not be acceptable to scientists who insist on double-blind studies producing reams of data for analysis and peer approval. But after 24 years of nursing, observations are all I have to fall back on.

For years I’ve watched the rise and demise of enrolled nurses, Project 2000 and endless relabelling. Hundreds of students have come and gone in a multitude of settings and varying states of accomplishment. And this is my conclusion – students who are wonderfully adept at academic pursuits often lack the desire to stop typing and start learning.

In my work environment there are two basic classifications of nursing students – those who stick like glue to seasoned staff nurses in the hope that experience will somehow be absorbed by osmosis, and those who constantly bemoan their wretched essays and are never happier than when they spend one-to-one time with service users, trying to find the person buried beneath the illness.

They may not be armed with all the right mental health buzzwords or begin each sentence with ‘Research has shown…’ but they have an empathy for service users’ needs. I know who I’d rather be stuck in a lift with.

That said, whatever category students fall into, they can all improve on assertiveness. I understand they want to please but, just for once, I would love someone to question my actions when I forget something important.

Sometimes I purposely omit something to see if it evokes a response and when nothing happens I sigh and put a mental tick in the lack-of-assertiveness column.

Simon Daniels, mental health rehabilitation nurse, Stoke-on-Trent

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