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'I didn't always want to be a nurse'

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Since realising that nursing is the career for her, Katie hasn’t looked back.

Katie Sutton_SNT

The first draft of my personal statement opened with the line “I didn’t always want to be a nurse” - it was quickly removed when I realised it just didn’t look good, but it is important to this story.

When I first decided my vocation lay in healthcare, I actually wanted to be a paramedic. But the more time I spent pursuing that role, as a volunteer with St John Ambulance, the more I realised that whilst the thrill of being on the front line was exciting - I craved more connection, more caring, a longer-standing relationship with patients.

And that’s when I turned to nursing.

Since becoming a student nurse, and healthcare assistant, I know that I made the right decision.

Reflecting with patients on their improvements is a thrill, setting goals and helping them achieve.

I enjoy the thrill of it - there’s rarely a dull moment on the wards, because even when a long night-shift is dragging, a cheerful patient will occasionally pop their head around the door to ask the staff if they want a brew.

I love the diverse backgrounds of the people I’ve met. Nurses who dreamed of this career growing up, and others who decided at 30 that they wanted a change. Doctors who have worked in the field longer than I’ve been alive, and newly qualified junior doctors. Patients, with the most fascinating stories to tell.

And I look back in history at where nursing has come from, the advancements we’ve made with technology and therapy and medication, and I know that the next 20, 30, 40 years will surely be just as exciting and fast-paced, that the opportunities to learn and grow in this career will never cease.

I feel lucky, too. There are people trusting in me, to comfort them when they need it. To support them, when their beloved family member is gravely ill, or has passed on. To work with people of many different backgrounds, talents and abilities, to help people make the most of their lives. I feel privileged each day that I step off the ward knowing that I had made a difference to someone’s life.

My love of nursing was crystal clear to me at the end of my last placement.

Within half an hour of arriving on the ward on my first day, I witnessed my first restraint - a patient who was extremely ill with no insight, who was angry and taking his feelings out on staff. By the next morning, his room was empty and he had been transferred to the psychiatric ICU. Eight weeks later, I heard his name again in handover, and half an hour afterwards, he walked back onto the ward - humble, calm, pleasant.

Over the next two weeks, we spent one-to-one time with him, encouraged him to attend ward activities and utilise day leave, and then, in my last week, I attended his ward round, and witnessed the consultant informing him he could have overnight leave.

The expression on his face lit up the whole room, and the happiness he showed made me feel lighter. It was the perfect end to my placement, and exactly what I craved when I decided to apply for this course: watching people get better, and go home.


Katie Sutton is Student Nursing Times’ mental health branch student editor

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Readers' comments (1)

  • i too did not always want to be a nurse. i wanted to be a lumber jack ;-)

    very inspirational. mental health nurses have my utmost respect, i don't think i have the hardiness for the role.

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