One of the questions I keep hearing as a student nurse is “can you teach someone to care?”
A particularly relevant question amid accusations that nurses don’t care, and yet, one that I am still waiting for an answer to.
I suppose (for a geek like me) one of the joys of training to be a nurse is the amount we’re expected to figure out for ourselves, at least in terms of where we stand on certain ethical and theoretical positions.
I’ve been mulling this question over for some time and think I might have cracked it: a caring personality is fundamental to nursing, and you either have it or you don’t. I don’t think you can learn to care about people: your heart has to be in it from the get go, and if you don’t enjoy your career-to-be, then you won’t make a good nurse, because most people can, however ill they are, tell if your head is somewhere else.
What nursing teaches, above and beyond the clinical skills and the anatomy and physiology, is how to use your empathy and caring nature to help people get and feel better, to help them overcome or at least cope with their conditions, and how to use your desire to help people in the best possible way.
This is one of the many things I’m loving about being a student nurse: every single person’s story is different, and my horizons have been broadened more since I started my degree almost four months ago than I could ever have imagined.
Katie Sutton is a first year mental health student nurse studying at the University of Salford.