Why do you want to be a nurse? It’s the million pound question asked of every prospective student nurse in their university admission interview.
The most common responses mention wanting to care for people, to give something back and to do something worthwhile. While these were some of the reasons I wanted to nurse, there was one more that I shared with one particular group of interviewers.
‘Because I think I would be really good at it’
At the time I was an enthusiastic and slightly naive 18 year old working as a healthcare assistant on a diabetic medical ward. After years of refusing to follow in my mother’s footsteps, it suddenly dawned on me that this was exactly what I wanted to do. I love assisting with washes, learning about diseases and talking to patients. It was Alfred Mercier who said ‘What we learn with pleasure, we never forget’. I love nursing and that’s what makes me believe I will be a good nurse. I want to prove that I can do it and that I can do it as well as I think.
Equally there have been many times when I have felt utterly useless and have found myself questioning what made me believe that I could take on such a challenging career. It’s not difficult to become disheartened when all we ever seem to hear about are pay freezes, pension cuts and poor care. It is these times that I like to remember the patients that have helped me more than I could have ever helped them. The ones you still remember long after they leave your care.
The daughter who took the time to wish me luck on my driving test even when her father had passed away. The husband and wife who pop into say hello every time they are at the hospital. The family of a lady with dementia who said I was the ‘nicest, kindest, most caring nurse’ they had met and praised my positive attitude. They may not know it, but they are all the reasons that I want to be a nurse.
They are the ones that keep me going even when I’ve had a bad day and someone has urinated on my shoes.
On the 12th May it is International Nurses Day; a celebration of nurses and the hard work we do. With so much negativity surrounding healthcare at the moment, I think we could all use a reminder of why we became nurses - because there is something profoundly wonderful in helping people when they are at their most vulnerable. Because we want to share our compassion for others. Because we enjoy the interaction with patients. Because we have cared for family members. Because we want to do more. Because it is a privilege. Because we want to make a difference.
Because we care.
Laura Carter is a third year student nurse at the University of Kingston.