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Starting Out: Qualifying is exciting but terrifying at the same time

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I never imagined qualifying to be such an utter non-event. A letter dropped through my door, containing my Pin and two pages of direct debit details

I never imagined qualifying to be such an utter non-event. A letter dropped through my door, containing my Pin and two pages of direct debit details.

No trumpets sounded, no fireworks exploded and there wasn’t even a word of congratulation on being allowed at last to call myself a registered nurse.

Yet here were the documents permitting me to fly solo after three years of studying. My wings, if you like.

Yikes. I can’t quite believe that my notes don’t need to be countersigned and that
I can at last wear a blue theatre cap instead of a white one.

Maybe it’s because the journey is so long, you can’t quite believe it when you get there – especially when it’s such a low-key arrival. It’s a bit like running the London Marathon to find that no-one’s meeting you at the finishing line.

Holding the letter, I began to flounder somewhat. Did I really think that I could do such a grown-up job?

At the end of our third year, a colleague expressed frustration, saying that she just wanted to get on with the job. But I was luxuriating in my final days of student life, felt privately comforted by the security of mentorship and was quite content to carry on.

It’s now that the responsibility of the job really hits home. In my early days of training, I had an inner picture of myself as a qualified nurse. I would be calm and confident, never second guess myself and, naturally, know everything. Pity it didn’t turn out that way.

So, I’m simultaneously looking forward to and dreading writing ‘RN’ after my name. After all, I should be prepared. I’ve passed everything, I’ve got my PIN – I’ll even have a blue cap at work.

Here I am, world, a fully qualified and registered nurse. Watch me fly.

Arabella Sinclair-Penwarden is a newly qualified staff nurse

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