From bus driver to nurse: student nurse Christopher Price looks back on a life-changing year
I’m now successfully halfway through the first year of my mental health nursing course, but it’s taking a while for reality to fully sink in, particularly the privilege of referring to myself as a student nurse.
A year earlier, I wasn’t referring to myself in quite such a positive manner.
Twelve months ago, it felt like the only direction I had in my life was the long and (very) frustrating daily journey in and out of central London behind the wheel of a bus. Sitting in London traffic gives you a LOT of time to think. “What am I doing with my life?” “Get out of my way, that’s a bus lane!” “Why did I never become a nurse?”
”I’ve ALWAYS struggled to find a meaningful, satisfying and rewarding career”
I have worked pretty much since I was 11 years old so by now, at the grand old age of 30, I have worked almost two thirds of my life!
From working in shops to doing nightclub security – I’ve done it all. I even have a degree in music production. While I’ve never struggled to find employment, I’ve ALWAYS struggled to find a meaningful, satisfying and rewarding career. I feel like my efforts just kept me chugging along on the road to nowhere (or to central London…).
I did, however, find one role that is both amazing and fullfilling - being a dad. But being a tired and grumpy dad coming home every day from a job he doesn’t enjoy is not such a positive experience.
”Nursing was something I had long wanted to pursue; I guess I just never really had the guts to go through with it.”
What kind of role model is that to my daughters? I don’t know of many little girls wanting to grow up to follow in their father’s footsteps as a grumpy old bus driver…
christopher price daughters
I knew I wanted to make a difference in my life and a brief experience working in community care reaffirmed that. Nursing was something I had long wanted to pursue; I guess I just never really had the guts to go through with it.
I couldn’t help but think: “Nursing? Sure that’s a woman’s job. You’re a bloke!” The figures still suggest that only 10% of nursing staff are men, but that figure is steadily increasing. I only have to take a brief look around the classroom to notice more than 10% of us are men!
So, I took the plunge in November 2015. I submitted my application. Attended my selection day. Then I waited for a decision… and waited… and waited some more. Sitting behind the wheel of that bus didn’t do much to aid my patience. I was so desperate for an answer, a decision, an indication, anything.
”I was grabbing the opportunity to become a nurse firmly with both hands”
And then one day I logged on to UCAS…
I was hit by joy, fear, excitement, tears, elation, shock! I couldn’t believe it. “DADDY’S GONNA BE A NURSE!” I shouted, although I’m sure my little girls didn’t understand a word I said, between my frantic excited efforts to blurt it out and my thick Northern Irish accent.
From February 2016 I would officially be a mental health nurse in training. The countdown was on. Nothing could get in my way now, not even a bicycle, or an Uber driver!
I finished my last shift on the bus not long before I started university. Getting back to the depot after my last journey, I took my hands off the steering wheel and got out of the cab for one last time. I felt relieved. I was grabbing the opportunity to become a nurse firmly with both hands.
It’s taken me so long to get here and I’m never letting go.
As for being a role model to my daughters, my eldest asked me one day when I’d come home from placement, “Daddy, did you make everyone feel better today?”
“I’m pretty sure I didn’t make anybody feel worse, sweetie, so I think I might be getting the hang of it,” I told her.
Christopher Price is 1st year mental health nursing student at University of Suffolk