I am a ‘mature student’, in my final year of adult nursing. I have many years of experience working in a hospital setting and nursing is all I have ever wanted to do.
I knew it would be tough, but I was not prepared for how tough it would really be: the academic work, placement hours and bringing up a family, but despite these hurdles, I know this is what i am passionate about.
I feel that there is so much negative press around nursing; the pay, the working conditions and the lack of support. I read so many articles that focus on the difficult side of nursing and feel that the reason so many of us choose to care for people has been lost among this.
Yes, I have found placement extremely difficult at times, I have felt unsupported and undervalued, but I have had many more positive experiences, where I have felt and been welcomed as part of the team.
Members of staff have been asking and valuing my option. Every placement offers new learning opportunities, even the more challenging ones where you learn to be more resilient and elegantly challenge – this is all part of our skill set as a nurse.
I chose to become a nurse because I want to support people when they are experiencing what may be the worst time of their lives, I want to care for people, help them to feel safe, to witness their rehabilitation or to be the one who supports a family when they have lost a loved one.
I want to highlight the positives, how it feels to hold someone’s hand when they are scared or to be part of a team that saves some one’s life.
In just two years of placements, I have experienced all of these emotions – emotions that have left me crying on my lunch break and questioning if I am strong enough to do this. When I’m on a night shift and I get that horrible ‘four in the morning’ feeling, that most night shift workers will know so well.
Other times I spend all day laughing. A patient on my last placement, on a brain injury unit, loved to tell jokes and every shift she would have a new joke to tell me.
Not only did this make us giggle, but by the end of my six-week placement she remembered most of the jokes. For her this was a huge achievement, as her brain injury had affected her short-term memory and I was able to experience that milestone with her.
If you are thinking about becoming a nurse, go for it. Or if you are on the course and feeling a bit lost, hang in there and remember why you wanted to become a nurse.
Signing up to this course was the best decision I have made. I have surrounded myself with supportive people and made some lifelong friends at university, who offer advice and shared experiences.
I am hoping that outlining just a handful of positives from my training so far will encourage others to take that step into nursing. If you are a nurse or training to become one, let’s continue to tell the good stories and help people to love nursing again.
Kayleigh Lewis is a student (adult nursing branch) at Bournemouth University