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'Was I right to try and set an example?'


Do you have any advice for this student nurse?

“I’m a mental health nursing student, and feel very strongly that part of my role is to set an example to others in treating people who have mental health problems with respect.

“On a train the other day a man sat across from me who very obviously had problems. He was unkempt and smelled strongly of urine.

“Other passengers quickly moved away, but I decided not to as the train was not stopping for some time and it was obvious why people were moving. The smell was very unpleasant, then he began blowing his nose into his hands then wiping them down his jacket.

“My stomach was churning and I thought I was going to be sick, but I stayed in my seat until the next station 20 minutes later.

“Would others have moved, or was I right to stay?”

Emma, Wolverhampton


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Readers' comments (2)

  • Emma Corbett

    As a student nurse we are taught to treat everyone as equals, fairly and with respect and to try and understand our patients holistically, not by first impressions. In your instance I think you did the right thing by staying seated, although others on the train would not have know you were a student nurse, to you it was obviously something you felt strongly about. Also, the man across from you may have realised why people were moving away from him however you may have made him feel that little bit better by staying! Actions speak louder than words and I think you set a lovely example. :)

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  • I agree.. as mental health nurses we need to look beyond first impressions. Sadly, the man is probably very much aware of peoples reactions towards him and is probably not used to people sticking around! You should feel good about that- it shows you were putting his feelings before yours, even though you were put off by the odour. Unless you felt under threat i think its good that you stayed. Others probably did not have as much will to stay or the compassion to move away sensitively.

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