It’s that time of year when everyone has something wrong with them. Me? My arm hurts. My wife has a clicky knee that appears to prevent her from putting the kettle on. Jamie, Paul and Sophie all have coughs. Bonnie has hiccups. Gail has lost her mobile, which isn’t the same but means I can’t call her to see if anything hurts.
Frankly, I think this is why we have Christmas right in the middle of winter - to distract us from the sore throats, achy joints and sinus swelling that plague us when the sun is farthest away.
Most of us love Christmas. Some of us like shopping, some like sitting around for two days with a green paper hat on, others like eating tins of sweets that make their teeth ache more than their hurty arm. We can usually find some outlet from tension, low lying pain or darkness induced misery in Christmas and, in so doing, gird our loins for the hell that is January and what I have always thought of as that most sarcastic of months, February. With its silent “r” and its silly number of days; can’t stand February.
But perhaps Christmas - despite the promptings of supermarkets that appeared to start jingling bells in September - is not so close that we can let go of our flakes of pain or irritation where some things are concerned. Like student nurses: I can’t help feeling they are bearing the brunt of a wholesale irritation within the nursing world and isn’t it rather unbecoming?
‘We have Christmas right in the middle of winter to distract us from the sore throats and achy joints that plague us when the sun is farthest away’
Goodness knows there is a lot to be unhappy about at the moment. It is wet, cold and dark. Cuts are coming, services are struggling, morale is low and, as if this wretched government is not bad enough, there is every chance we will reach even lower into the bowels of pomposity by having a bunch of Tories in power by the middle of next year.
But surely students are the last people to whom the profession’s dissatisfaction should be directed. Some suggest they can’t do care plans (if that is the case you could always show them or fail them), or they are too “educated” to concern themselves with fundamental care (half of them spend their days off working as care assistants which is pretty fundamental).
But maybe I am being glib. Maybe there is a crisis of education the like of which we haven’t seen since the last time. There is, of course, a perpetual crisis of education in nursing - it is one of the things that defines us. Nurses are either too practical or too clever, too kind or too scientific, undertrained or overeducated. And this has been the story since about 1904.
We may end up changing everything again or we may just tinker a while depending on who shouts loudest and what mood those with power are in. But while we wait to see I can’t help feeling that students themselves deserve a bit more respect than they might be getting. They don’t design the training, they don’t choose their teachers or their mentors. They just want to nurse. Maybe it’s something to which we should, and could, all be a bit kinder?