Raising concerns is probably one of the most terrifying things you can do as a nurse and a student
Yet it is so necessary in this day and age.
Sadly, over the years there have been times when the care given to patients has not been good enough. As a student nurse it makes me so sad to think that patients have suffered because of this.
I’m not the only one. We know that there are nurses and other healthcare professionals out there who have tried to stop poor care and not always been supported. Instead, they have been treated as if they are the “baddies” and threatened with dismissal from their jobs. Action has not always been taken to address their concerns.
This is not right.
When football teams do not perform as well as they should, fans, players, investors and the media complain. In this way, they are raising concerns. This leads to actions being taken; different tactics being employed within the game, players training harder, managers and coaches being dismissed. Actions are taken to return the team to its usual standard.
Perhaps nursing and healthcare in the UK could learn a thing or two from the football world.
To stand up and say that something is not right requires courage of the highest level. It requires moral and ethical beliefs. It requires sound knowledge. It requires personal leadership. It requires hope for change.
So surely the least we can do is support those who speak out?
As a student, it feels like there is a lot on the line when you raise concerns. Mentors might not sign you off, they may stop you progressing on your course, you may be labelled a “trouble-maker” and miss out on career opportunities in the future.
However, these students should be praised for their belief that patients can be treated better and that improvements can be made to staffs’ working environments.
At university, we’re taught to question everything in our academic work and this lesson should follow into practice. We should question our mentors and ask why they are doing things in the way they are. If their answer is not good enough, then we should be questioning senior members of staff. If it’s still not good enough we should talk to line managers and personal tutors.
The way things are taught in university is not always the way it is done in practice, but this does not always mean you’re observing bad practice. We have to ask questions to find out more as this will help us decide if we need to raise concerns.
Those who speak out have patients and other staff members at the heart of their reasoning for raising concerns. They should be rewarded for doing this, not punished.
If you do decide to take bring your concerns to the attention of those in charge, I really hope you receive support to do this in a safe manner.
If you don’t receive this then this needs reporting too. University and ward staff should provide you with help and guidance and when this doesn’t happen, something is going seriously wrong.
I hope all universities formally sign up to Speak Out Safely and send the message to all of their staff and students that they will support and encourage them to raise their concerns.
Amanda Smillie is in her third year studying mental health nursing at University of Nottingham and an SOS Student Ambassador