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'Nursing will never be just a job to me'


Nursing Times’ student nurse blogger Katrina Michelle Rowan gives valuable insight into being a ‘professional’ nurse.

One of my lecturers asked me if I would be prepared to give a talk to the new intake of students regarding professionalism. In particular I was asked to share with the new students my journey towards becoming a qualified nurse. Writing down my journey has helped me realise just how much I have developed, but I can also acknowledge that I have many areas in which I need to expand my knowledge.

My personal belief is that becoming a professional is a series of steps. Most dictionaries broadly describe a professional as a person who in order to perform a job needs a high level of education and training.

Before I commenced my nurse training I worked in an office. I had been out of education for 12 years. Nursing had always been something I had an interest in but I always had something else to do 1st – go backpacking, see the world, settle down, get a mortgage, have babies.

Starting my training was an easy decision, but turning my back on a secure 9-5 job was a leap of faith. It was the best decision I have ever made.

Undertaking nursing education is part of becoming a professional. Learning about anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, reflective practice and clinical skills within the placement area and within the university setting is part of the journey.

For me – walking into my first ward in my student nurse uniform was a big step in becoming a professional. As soon as you put on that uniform you become a professional. It doesn’t matter that you’ve never given a bed bath; you’ve never given a suppository, never done CPR. You have a uniform on. The patients and the staff expect you to have knowledge and capability. They expect you to treat them with dignity, respect and compassion. The expect you to give them the best care that you are able. 

Being a professional nurse means the patients in your care must be able to trust you, it means being up to date with best practice, it means treating your patients  and colleagues with dignity, kindness, respect and compassion.

I understood the concept of this on my first placement but I didn’t fully understand until my eighth day on placement. The emergency buzzer went off – I answered it and ran head first into a cardiac arrest. I witnessed professionalism first hand as the nursing team tried to bring the patient back. I participated in CPR; I did the best I could within my capabilities.Unfortunately, the patient died. 

It was that moment for me that shaped me and has defined my choices ever since. That moment is when I can pinpoint that I understood fully what being a professional was. Nursing is not just a job.

Being a professional nurse means the patients in your care must be able to trust you, it means being up to date with best practice, it means treating your patients  and colleagues with dignity, kindness, respect and compassion.  It means understanding the NMC code of conduct. It means being accountable.

I have had many experiences since that have helped me on my journey to becoming a qualified nurse.  These have all shaped me and structured the way I view my nursing practice.  I believe that a huge part of being a nurse encompasses humanity skills such as compassion, empathy, sympathy and kindness.  I also believe having good communication skills are vital.

Nursing for me will never be “just a job”, it is something I have a huge passion for and each day is a learning experience. I have loved my training; I have been incredibly lucky and enjoyed all my placements. The patients, nurses, lecturers, other members of the hospital environment and my fellow students have all helped shape me into becoming the nurse I am. I know I still have a huge amount to learn, but I believe part of being a professional is acknowledging my limitations.  

Finally, two of the most important things I have learnt on my journey is that becoming a nurse involves working as part of a huge team. The patient is the central, most important part of that team and should be at the centre of any interventions implemented.


Readers' comments (5)

  • Thanks for your account but you have never really explained events you faced which you think was right practice and negative practice by staff and multi disciplinaryTeam during your student years.

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  • I wish you luck on your journey to qualification. However, life is very different as a qualified staff nurse, there just will NOT be time for all the things you have so enjoyed being a student. I hope you don't become jaded over the years. Many newly qualified are as keen and ambitious as yourself, however, sadly it seems to be a fact of life that most of them end up stressed, disgruntled and fed up. I really hope you keep the vision you are holding but nursing IS a job and a very difficult job. We are not angels, we struggle against the odds each day to provide what our patients need. Unfortunately many managers seem to think that nurses will always step in to cover the gaps, and as long as we give them the impression that nursing is a 'vocation' rather than the job it is, we are on a hiding to nothing.

    Keep to your dreams and try your best to keep hold of them. Sorry for sounding cynical but it is a very difficult life.

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  • Hhhmm. Pie in the sky springs to mind. You will learn Katrina. I'm sorry to say it but you sound awfully patronising.

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  • Katrina,

    I completely agree with you! I am just going into my 3rd year of my course now and cannot imagine ever wanting to do anything else!

    I think it is sad however that some would find us naive and over keen.

    I am not denying that the path we have chosen is an easy one or full of frustrating politics.

    But wouldn't it be a lot more enjoyable if we did it with optimism and a smile?

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  • The day you stop caring is the day you stop being a nurse. Nursing is not just a job it's a lifestyle. Everything you do you take home with you in your conscience. The good and the bad. The day we find it unbearable we really should step aside. Nurses is not for the faint hearted. Students are not naive they see all the pros and cons during their placements. They also so see the good nurses from the those who see it as just a ordinary 'job'.

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