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

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As the start of his course fast approaches, Andrew reflects on how he ended up on the path to becoming a childrens’ nurse

I’d like to think that my journey into nursing started in August 2012 when I left work to start my Access course.

But nearly two years later and having just received my email to confirm my first day at university, I’m starkly reminded that I’m still nearly four excruciating months away.

I feel like I should have a clear idea of my expectations and concerns for the next three years but in truth it’s difficult to formulate exactly what my initial fears are, or pinpoint what I’m most excited about.

This indecision reminds me of a particularly gruelling interview I had for a university place. I was asked “Why do you want to be a nurse?” and in all honesty I’m still struggling with a clear answer to that question now.

There are a few nurses I know, who just from their day to day working are in themselves inspirational. Hearing about their experiences of care and expertise were definitely factors in my decision to choose nursing.

I remember briefly considering being a nurse when my sister left to start her training eight years ago, but my particular aversion to anything bloody or sharp took it out of the running as a consideration. However, after a seven week stay in hospital at the beginning of last year and cannulations every 2/3 days, I can safely say that, firstly: exposure therapy works, and secondly: I’m no longer affected…much.

“I don’t know how many current students or trained nurses had a calling to the vocation, but I know I didn’t”

Real deliberation on nursing as an option for me, and eventually an inevitability, sparked initially from a multitude of factors, including frustrations around the limitations in my old field of work and the desire to do something worthy.

We’ve all heard horror stories of first year drop-outs who underestimated the commitment and dedication needed. I believe I know myself well enough and have a realistic enough view of the work not to be one of them, but I still hold a niggling voice in the back of my consciousness that both questions my ability and stomach for the process.

I assume my self-doubt is largely rooted in my choice to do nursing being so methodical as opposed to an epiphany.

I don’t know how many current students or trained nurses had a calling to the vocation, but I know I didn’t. I tend to look upon this as a good thing. I’ve never been able to run with a gut feeling and I predominantly lean towards a decision based on the evidence I have.

I hope my tendency to risk assess decisions will mean I’m more meticulous in my work, as opposed to coming across as slow and unsure.

All I can safely say is that I’m overwhelmingly excited to start in September and that I’m proud of my decision to enter the field.

I still love the reaction from people when I answer their “What are you studying?” with “Children’s Nursing”. Overwhelmingly, I get an obligatory “I couldn’t do that”, to which I say to myself “I can”.

“I’m overwhelmingly excited to start in September”

Although that may sound conceited and prideful, every time it makes those niggling voices just that little bit quieter, and makes me surer footed that I am going to be part of the nursing community, and that is something pretty great.


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


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