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'Let's find something that reminds us why we're training to be nurses'


I have in my possession, a 1942, 24th Edition of Gray’s Anatomy (no, not the TV show) and a beautiful Littmann Stethoscope. They’re currently two of my favourite things.

Andrew OConnell_SNT

Andrew O’Connell

Yet, as for starting my children’s nursing course in September, they are both rather defunct.

Here’s why. I can safely say that firstly, I won’t be using a 72 year old anatomical book as a reference for a modern nursing essay, nor do I see myself running down a corridor, stethoscope swinging heroically from my neck, yelling ‘STAT’ at every person I see.

So, other than the obvious bragging rights, why have I mentioned this? Why do these two things hold so much importance to me as I prepare to embark on my first year of nursing?

Well, other than the sentimental value attributed to two very thoughtful birthday gifts, I hold these things as talismans for the journey I’m about to start. They are symbolic of the reasons I want to be a nurse and are physical reminders of the nurse I want to be. What I aim to know; the achievements I’ll be pushing for; the clinical skills I’ll be practicing and the knowledge I want hold.

There are many practical things that we’ve all had to do to get to where we are now: sorting out bursaries and loans, preparing course materials, planning living arrangements, boring everyone on our Facebook and Twitter with real time countdowns; but this can sometimes distract from the truly great decision we’ve made to become nurses. 

As part of our preparation I think it’s important to find something, whether it’s an object, song or even a memory; that reminds you of why you chose this profession. And then keep hold of it throughout the next three years, which, if everything I’ve read and heard is true, are going to be merciless.

It’s a tough job we’ve chosen and the training needs to reflect that. Our metal needs to be tested so in three years’ time when we’re qualified and loaded with all the expectation that every other nurse has (gulp), we perform and do the job right.

There will be the pressure of academic deadlines mixed with the emotional and physical strain that placements can cause, and not of course ignoring our own self-doubt and insecurities. Those tough times are going to need some pretty strong resilience to pull us through and keep us motivated.

This is why I suggest that while we are fresh faced newbies, full of excitement and naïve expectations, we grasp onto something tangible. In the months and years to come, our talismans can remind us of this time, and give us the kick we need to push through the low patches. We will then invariably reap the rewards of completing the course and achieving the RN status we will have fought so hard for.

Andrew O’Connell is due to start a course in Children’s Nursing at Hertfordshire University in September 2014

Keep up with him on twitter: @Andycnurse


More from Andrew:

How do you prepare to start a nursing course?

People tell me they wouldn’t be able to do children’s nursing, but I know I can


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