The learning disability student nurse cohort that I am part of had our final lecture together yesterday, eighteen of us left out of twenty three starters.
I remember our first lecture together as if it was yesterday; all sat nervously eyeing each other up and trying to work out who we would get along with.
Little pairs and groups were soon established and we rubbed on along for the first year not really venturing from the initial friendships we had made.
Second year came and went with a few disagreements between the little cliques and at times you could even feel real hostility.
But in third year something happened, I can’t identify when or how it happened I just know that it did. We went from being lots of little groups to one close-knit group who worked together supporting each other with everything the programme threw at us. Presentations became slick as we worked so well together, essays and exams became less stressful because we learnt how to debate with each other.
But the real change came in practical sessions which in first and second year were painful due to embarrassment and the feeling that each group was judging the next, yet now were real sharing experiences.
Whilst receiving our final moving and handling update we worked seamlessly as a team. We assisted each other with equipment, shared ideas of how best to do specific manoeuvres, whilst giving each other genuine praise and constructive advice. But mainly we laughed together like we have never laughed before, it wasn’t the most professional of sessions and at one stage it felt like we were in an episode of ‘carry on nurse’ but it was a real eye opener in how well we have gelled as a group.
So yesterday when I looked round at this group of individuals whom I had spent the last three years with, I was bursting with all kinds of emotions.
Pride; each and every one of us is going to graduate as a Learning Disability Nurse. We have worked exceptionally hard together to get this far, there have been some difficult times for all of us at some stage of the programme and we supported each other through it.
Disbelief; three years is a long time but it has flown and I attribute it to the fact that even though we didn’t know it at the time, we were all amongst real lifelong friends.
Sadness; apart from the day when we finally graduate, we will probably never all be in the same room, at the same time again.
But the emotions that really struck a chord for me were pleasure and gratitude; this group of people from all walks of life (we really were a diverse group) are not just people I know from University, they are my friends. And I am happy to count them all as really good supportive friends.
So what I am trying to say is be open to each other’s faults and habits learn to be accepting of others points of view and way of life and your life will be enriched for it. If I had been given the choice of which people I was going to spend three years with, I probably wouldn’t have chosen over half of the cohort I was placed with. But when I looked round yesterday I can honestly say I wouldn’t swap any of them; we worked through our differences and became a seriously strong team of Learning Disability Nurses, which is exactly what our client group need.
Michelle Parker is the student nursing times editor for learning disability nursing.