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Student nurse inspired to pen poems to combat ‘negativity’

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A student nurse from the Midlands says she has been inspired by her experiences of training to write poetry about the “beautiful career”.

Jemma Bird, 34, from Walsall, is now in her third year of a BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing degree at the University of Wolverhampton.

“During my years studying I have written poetry relating to my experiences along the way”

Jemma Bird

Over the years, she has captured her experiences in poetry, from the negativity sometimes portrayed in the media through to her own feelings of what a privilege it is to care for people.

She noted that the decision to pursue nursing “wasn’t an easy one”, recalling her experiences of thinking about a career in the profession as an “impressionable” 16-year-old.

“I spoke of my desire to become a nurse to be met with criticism and objection, mainly in the form of derogatory and disparaging comments of what people assumed about a nurse’s role,” she said.

University of Wolverhampton

Student nurse inspired to write poetry to combat ‘negativity’

Jemma Bird

“Years later the perception and attitude towards the nursing role still seems apparent today, often met with attitudes of hostility and negativity,” said Ms Bird.

“With media headlines often criticising and showcasing the worst of nursing care and failing to address the many achievements that the nursing profession accomplish, it isn’t difficult to see why this view still exists,” she noted.

“I realise the view of nursing held by some could not be further from the truth,” she said. “I have found nursing to be a beautiful career that not only helps others in so many different ways but helps shape the person undertaking the role into the person they become.

“During my years studying I have written poetry relating to my experiences along the way,” she added.

Ms Bird is not the first example of poetry in nursing. A poem was specially written by a nurse in order to draw attention among health professionals to the importance of time to older patients.

The poem, called the Last 1,000 Days, was written by nurse and creative artist Molly Case and commissioned by the chief nursing officer for England Professor Jane Cummings.

London-based cardiac nurse Ms Case achieved national recognition in 2013, when she performed her poem Nursing the Nation at the Royal College of Nursing’s annual congress.

Ms Bird penned the following poem ‘Just a Nurse’ during her first year and said it still reflected how she felt about the “privilege of being able to care for people during their most vulnerable times”.

Just a Nurse by Jemma Bird

Just a nurse was said to me. Just a nurse when young and wee. Figuring out who I should be, just a nurse? Was this for me?

Just a nurse, it’s what I thought. Just a nurse, It’s what was taught. Just a nurse? How very wrong I was. Just a nurse?

I know they’re not. And here’s because. Feeding, cleaning, assessments and more. Drugs rounds, washes blood on the floor. Bandaging, swabs, IV drips and tea. That 11 o’clock tea break is needed, believe me.

Sometimes if lucky 10 minutes to drink. Sometimes not even 10 minutes to think. Assignments, legislation, governance and law. Anatomy, physiology, biochemistry to explore. Information and exams, you don’t understand. Yet you read and read, till it’s all second hand.

Catheters, bed pans, helping people change. Emergencies, resus, helping people walk once again. Theatres, x-rays, surgery and more. Being with patients and waiting by that door. Not because you have to, just because you care.

When a patient asks you to stay with them, you stay with them and share. Their feelings of grief and worry and fear. When they have no one else but you that’s here. You become their friend for part of that day. Someone to keep their worries at bay.

Holding hands and wiping tears. Sharing good news and fighting back fears. Hugs for patients who need them most, laughter, smiles and inside jokes. And if you lose your family, we feel that too. We really want the best for them and the best for you.

Playing cards with the elderly man who thinks you’re his wife. His wife who’s no longer part of this life. And all you can do is play along and smile, hoping that somehow you make him happy for a while.

Nurses are pushed, prodded and pulled. Yet they don’t complain and carry on in their role. Up at five and home at nine, and all this is taken in their stride. Just a nurse?……..

I’m a nurse with pride.

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