International Nurses’ Day is an opportunity to celebrate the great work that many nurses do and the difference they can make in people’s lives.
There is so much negative publicity about lack of care, so Nurses’ Day provides an opportunity to restore a sense of balance because I know that Health Boards receive far more letters of thanks and praise for nursing care than letters of complaints.
Nursing to me means caring with compassion and intelligence, creating the best environment for people to make the most of the life they have and to end life well.
It sounds clichéd, but everyone wants a nurse who is caring and compassionate but, as well as empathy, nurses need to be technically skilled, good at prioritisation, people management and advocacy.
Florence Nightingale showed that nurses can be a force for change. The challenge is for the current generation to make the same radical impact in a world of very different challenges.
I started nursing in 1977, and was one of the early nursing graduates from the Welsh National School of Medicine in Cardiff.
I wanted to work with people, but I also wanted the opportunity to have the experience of going to university and the nursing degree more than fulfilled both ambitions.
Over the years, I have seen the role of nurses develop and change. In hospitals the level of dependency and complexity of care among patients has increased. The role of nurses has expanded in some areas and requires more delegation of tasks in others and this can be a challenge.
“Florence Nightingale showed that nurses can be a force for change”
I think the challenge now for nursing is to be able to measure its impact. So much of nursing is intangible but we live in a world where we have to demonstrate worth.
Nursing is a privilege and I have many highlights. I am proud of the legacy of the diabetes nursing service I set up in Hampshire.
I have loved the opportunity to travel and meet fascinating people from around the world and I gained a great deal of personal satisfaction in gaining my PhD, but some of the best moments have been private moments of gratitude from patients for being with them through intensely personal experiences in their lives – it’s something that money can’t buy.
My advice for would-be nurses is go for it and make a difference.
Dr Ruth Davis is Head of the School of Care Sciences with a clinical background in surgery, medicine, and intensive care, before specialising in diabetes nursing