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'I'm grabbing the opportunity to be a nurse with both hands'

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From bus driver to nurse: student nurse Christopher Price looks back on a life-changing year

chris price

chris price

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

christopher price daughters

My daughters - Alexia-Rose and Meagan-Lily - following in daddy’s footsteps!

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…

…UNCONDITIONAL OFFER.

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

 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I completely understand where you're coming from. I'm a qualified carpenter but felt no real satisfaction with myself or what i was doing. It clicked one day, to take the plunge, do nursing and become a better person by making a real difference in life by helping someone else.
    I've applied for university and my journery begins!
    Good luck buddy with your degree!

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