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'Development, improvement and success... and yet we focus on the negatives'

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Why is it that all the positive changes and developments happening within the nursing profession are overlooked, while negative headlines take centre-stage?


Being a student nurse is hard. The long hours, busy weeks and short holidays can be exhausting. But I find a lot of the difficulty comes with the constant reminder that we must not be good enough because we are joining a profession that is failing.

The media is constantly enforcing, and reinforcing, the idea that nursing is a profession that makes mistakes, a profession that is not careful or caring or serious enough – a profession that is the cause of tragic events like those that took place at Mid-Staffordshire Hospital.

We are all very aware of these incidents. Mid-Staffordshire and Winterbourne get thrown in our faces on a regular basis during lectures or seminars or pieces of work, and then we have to see it on the news. We have to read about it in every news story that mentions our future career, and are warned against nursing at every opportunity. It is hard.

“I haven’t even begun my career as a nurse and yet I feel like some of the blame rests on my shoulders”

I haven’t even begun my career as a nurse and yet I feel like some of the blame rests on my shoulders. I shouldn’t, but I do.

I feel like choosing this career path makes me responsible for our past, so I can hardly imagine how all of the current hard-working registered nurses feel. An entire profession is taking the brunt for the work of a few, and that ‘few’ did not only include nurses, unless I’m mistaken and ONLY nurses worked in Mid-Staffordshire hospital and doctors and other healthcare professionals were never involved?

We are the profession being publicly shamed and slandered, and I feel like the world is forgetting all the hard work we put in to our nations’ healthcare. 

“We are the profession being publicly shamed and slandered”

There have been errors. There has been neglect. There has been death. I am not trying to brush any of that under the carpet or ignore its existence, but these issues have been addressed and huge amounts of guidance and new recommendations have been the outcome.

Service development is happening every minute, we are not deteriorating; we are constantly improving as a profession, and improving at speed.

I am not fearful of becoming a registered nurse, I believe in this profession. I am fearful of the media and what it is doing to our morale.

Why can’t we focus on positive stories? Such as the huge amount of money that has gone from turning the Castlebeck tragedy into a great quality service by Danshell, the fact that cases of MRSA caught in hospitals have significantly decreased over the past few years after guidance has been put in place, how highly trained student nurses are following the current curriculum integrating practical and theoretical experience so that we are truly ready by the time we qualify.

“I am fearful of the media and what it is doing to our morale”

Equipment used by nurses is being constantly developed, and the quality of nursing care is increasing as our knowledge and expertise do, our role is also adapting so that we have more responsibility and are using each other’s specialist knowledge to further improve our general care. The nursing community is growing stronger, we are having to support each other through all the slander from the media, and to adjust to the positive changes too.

My worry is that as the media continue to place blame, the public will follow suit. Public opinions matter, because they influence political decisions. We need the public to believe in nursing, because we need the support to continue developing and increasing the quality and effectiveness of our care.

Mostly though, we need to believe in ourselves as a profession, we need to rise above the negativity and instead focus on the successes. It can be hard, as a student nurse, or as a qualified nurse, but we can’t let it get to us or we won’t be able to be the positive force in healthcare that we need to be.


Lucy Cleden-Radford is Student Nursing Times’ learning disability branch editor

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Rebecca Kidman

    Great piece Lucy that I wholeheartedly agreed with. Wanted to write about this but you got there first :)

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