A former nurse who is now a prize-winning novelist has said the nursing profession needs to change the way it’s perceived.
Christie Watson, a nurse of 20 years who won the Costa First Novel award in 2011, said that “nurses have never been less valued”.
“Nurses have never been less valued, at a time when they ought to be valued more than ever before”
In a blogpost for NHS England, she wrote that “nurses’ voices are lacking in the media and in society” and that they need to “shout out about the amazing and important work they do, day in, day out”.
In the blog – titled Re-igniting pride in nursing and midwifery – she said: “Improving the perceptions of nursing is so important.
“I believe that in many ways, nurses have never been less valued, at a time when they ought to be valued more than ever before,” she said.
She backed the recently launched We are the NHS workforce campaign as a way to give children an insight into the varied roles of nurses and midwives.
The complexity of nursing was not widely understood and yet it was what singled it out from a straightforward medical approach, she wrote.
“Patients bring with them a tangled mixture of mental, emotional and physical complications,” she said. “They may have poverty or social care issues, or a loved one at home living with dementia or other long term illness, who they care for.”
She added: “This mixture of illness and circumstance cannot be fully addressed by the traditional medical model we have always used. It is excellent nursing care that is required to fully meet such complex needs.”
Earlier this year, Ms Watson addressed the Royal College of Nursing’s annual congress in Belfast.
“Nursing is in trouble like never before”, she said in her speech after being named as a new patron of the Royal College of Nursing Foundation.
Ms Watson won the Costa First Novel Award for her book Tiny Sunbirds Far Away and followed that up with another novel Where Women are Kings.
But for her latest book she decided to write non-fiction after seeing how few books there were about being a nurse.
She said: “I went to the library to research books written by nurses and whilst there was a whole genre of non-fiction books written by medics, I could only find one book, written by Florence Nightingale, that was written by a nurse and published, which I found really shocking.
“To me, this said so much about how little the nurse’s voice is heard or even present,” she said. “So, drawing on my nursing experience of 20 years, I wrote my first non-fiction book, The Language of Kindness.”
Ms Watson, who now writes full time, spent much of her nursing career in paediatric intensive care in large London teaching hospitals.
She later became a resuscitation officer, which involved teaching and clinical work on hospital-wide crash teams.