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Stop. Take a minute. Look how far you’ve come.

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Gemma’s life was turned upside-down by tragedy during her course, but today she’s able to look back on how much she’s grown as a person and as a nurse

I’ve reached the end of my studies.

In the blink of an eye, I’ve found myself about to qualify and face the world as a registered nurse.  This is an exciting, yet immensely nerve-racking, time.

Not surprisingly it has inspired a huge amount of reflection. Without a doubt, I have reflected throughout my four years of studying, but mainly only on my contribution to practice. Many an assignment was handed in with the introduction ‘For this reflective account I shall use Driscoll’s Reflective Cycle…!

Reflection is a vital part of our development as nurses but how often do we reflect on ourselves, how far we’ve come and what we’ve achieved?

When do we have the time to? For me, the time is now.

“Reflection is a vital part of our development as nurses”

I decided to study to become a nurse as my husband died of cancer in 2008 when our daughter was just three. During the short period of his illness I was his carer and I learnt so much. After he died

I realised I could not allow such a negative ending, I needed to use all that I had learnt to try and help others. I believed this was how the story could end more positively.

Throughout university things were inevitably difficult - particularly juggling childcare! The long placement hours often left me in tears, picking my daughter up from my friend’s house to put her straight to bed, having dropped her off at 6am that morning, and knowing the next day I would go through the same routine again.

I questioned what I was doing. What was I thinking and how was I ever going to manage? But I did.

I discovered how much I loved nursing and thrived on having the potential to make even small differences to the lives of patients in my care. This helped me become increasingly determined that I would succeed in nursing and offered me strength, which unfortunately I soon needed.

Between my second and third year, my mum was tragically murdered. It was recommended that I differed for a year but I refused and instead continued with an immense amount of support from the lecturers at my university.

In May, I was extremely honoured to have been a finalist at the Student Nursing Times Awards. The day was absolutely incredible. It left me with such a warm feeling, but why was it such a fantastic day? Without doubt the set up; location; glamour; excitement and being among friends and family contributed.

“I was extremely honoured to have been a finalist at the Student Nursing Times Awards”

But it was deeper than that.

It was a day that was set aside to truly appreciate the hard work, effort and determination that many, many students have displayed. A day when, as a body of nurses, we can value what most of us do daily without thought or consideration of how it may benefit us, but how we can improve the lives of each and every patient we encounter.

My experiences have taught me that anything in life can be achieved with determination, strength, and support.

Why did I keep going when things were tough? Was it determination? Absolutely. Commitment? Absolutely. Sheer stubbornness? Absolutely.

But more so it was because I knew I was good at nursing and I wanted to be the best I could be. Through striving to be the best we can we get instant feedback every single day we work. It is wonderful when it is recognised through awards but if it isn’t, it will not stop the effort that is put in tomorrow, the day after, or for the rest of our careers.

In the words of Maya Angelou: ‘We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.’

So stop. Take a minute. Look how far you’ve come.


Gemma Logan is just finishing her adult nursing degree at Queen Margaret University, she was a finalist for Student Nurse of the Year (Adult) at the Student Nursing Times Awards 2014


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Readers' comments (1)

  • Well done Gemma! You should be proud of yourself. I decided to train as a nurse after my wife died of a brain tumour in 2011. I too nursed my partner and thought: I want to help other people have as good a death as possible. I am good at this nursing stuff :-)
    My aim is to become a palliative care/End of Life nurse in the community. Our experiences will help us care better for our patients and we will never again think something is impossible. We have proven to ourselves that we are strong. Not that this needed proving, but you get the point :-) So once again, well done. It is fantastic that a profoundly sad thing can have a happy outcome of sorts.

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