The promotion of a healthy lifestyle and positive attitude towards wellbeing is what we do on a daily basis as student nurses.
There is a huge emphasis on health promotion and prevention over cure within the NHS and is at the core of my university’s curriculum.
Which for me begs the question ‘am I a good example of a role model for health?’
I mean, it makes sense; I am advising people on how they can prevent illness and treat their chronic conditions but how can I expect patients to heed my advice if I don’t do the same.
“The truth is we all do it and we’d be lying if we said we are all perfect advocates for health.”
I can certainly say I’ve been known to indulge in chips and cheese on the way back from a night out with friends and beg them to give me a cigarette.
The truth is we all do it and we’d be lying if we said we are all perfect advocates for health.
Similar to a dentist with bad teeth or a hairdresser with a bowl cut, you instantly think these people are supposed to be the experts.
“I can’t remember the last time I had a regular sleep pattern and there is certainly no money left from my bursary this month for apples and cous cous”
A study focusing on the lifestyles of pre-registration nurses showed that more than half did not engage in the recommended amount of physical activity, two thirds consumed over the recommended daily alcohol intake and three quarters did not eat the recommended 5-a-day (Blake et al, 2011).
This does not surprise me.
I am currently working 6 days a week between my placement and my part-time job. I can’t remember the last time I had a regular sleep pattern and there is certainly no money left from my bursary this month for apples and cous cous.
However, we should all do our best to be an advocate for health. Nurses are recognised as the healthcare professionals who have the most contact, and perhaps influence, over promoting a healthy attitude. But student nurses arguably have more opportunity to do this with less pressure and more time to have these conversations with patients.
“We should all do our best to be an advocate for health”
Since I started university I have quit smoking and I continue to make small changes as I learn more about how my lifestyle choices affect my health. But in all honesty, shift patterns, lack of time, limited money and the daily stresses make it a difficult task to be an ideal example of the future face of the NHS.
Emma Duffy is a current nursing student