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From PR to ER

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Three years ago I left my fast-paced life as fashion PR manager in London and returned to the green, green grass of home in North Wales to follow my dreams of training as an adult nurse. 

As I started my new life as a student nurse, I quickly realised there were some mirroring terminology within both roles but each had very different meanings, here are some examples.

Breakfast involved meeting with an important editor or social media influencer in the latest London brunch venue toying over eggs Benedict or Florentine (it’s a big decision).

Breakfast now means making sure every patient has their wallpaper paste-esque porridge. I’m not mocking hospital food here – it’s the only way to eat porridge in my opinion.

It means making sure those patients going to theatre aren’t accidentally given toast and jam and remain nil by mouth. Not forgetting us students, breakfast now means grabbing a quick bite during my 11am break, providing I get one of course.

I would like to disclaim now that I am by no means belittling my previous career – a life that some of my good friends still lead, I’m a strong believer that any job delivered with utmost integrity, is just as important as the next, however I can’t help but feel more satisfaction during these moment of “waitress in a nurses’ uniform”, running around and nearing the 2000 step count, before I’ve even had my own breakfast, than I did plugging the latest brands to disinterested journalists over eggs, cooked as per the latest fad.

Let’s talk about uniform. Working in fashion for nearly eight years has undoubtedly left me with an unquenchable interest in clothes, which not ideal when your student bursary resembles a 10 year old’s birthday money.

Going from a job that allowed an outlet to treat everyday in the office like a night out, to donning quite possibly the most unflattering scrubs, essentially purple bin bags with holes for leg and arms (don’t even get me started on the shoes), naturally left me feeling a bit bereft of my more glamorous days, though I must say I get ready much quicker in the morning now.

Dressing used to mean preparing the showroom for press events or putting my latest purchases on in the morning for a day of meetings with creative and usually over-priced drinks after work. Dressing now means cleaning up leg ulcers, checking post-op wounds and protecting pressure sores. The latter seem a tad more important somehow.

Handover once meant a document with client updates to give to my team before departing for any annual leave. The fact that they often gave the Magna Carta a run for its money size-wise, meant that often the joy of going on holiday was tainted by this necessary chore – all just to make sure needy clients were kept happy no matter how trivial the issue.

Handover is now a daily ritual on any shift, and it’s vital information regarding every single patient under our care. More needy than those past clients, but for more genuine reasons. For example, I need to know if a patient has not had enough fluid to drink during a shift; I don’t need to know if a client is upset that they didn’t make the latest fashion shoot in Grazia. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Finally and in my opinion, the most amusing word parallel between my two careers: PR. This simple abbreviation used to define my line of work – public relations. PR in my new world means per rectum, simple translation: through the back passage.

I must say I had a little Freudian smile on my face when I spotted the irony writing this last similarity. It’s safe to say that nursing people back to health rather than cursing clients and feeding unhealthy fashion habits is much more my bag.

Catrin Jones is a third-year adult nursing student at Bangor University 

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