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'We have a choice. And we chose to nurse'


Someone once said life was like a box of chocolates. I disagree. If there’s one thing these past 6 months have taught me it’s that life is more life a motorway.

Yeah sure you think. Well let’s examine it a little closer. You’re driving along, people overtaking, people undertaking, you miss your exit and you’re stuck. You have to deal with the consequences and resort to plan B, continue to the next exit and backtrack. Like life the motorway has rules, it has risk takers and it has enforcement. It looks relatively straight forward to an onlooker but really we don’t known what lies ahead. You can drive that M9 daily and then one day something on that road changes your perception forever.
That’s where I found myself 7 months ago. Previous to the dreaded day I admitted it had all gone wrong I had assumed that as long as I stayed on the route and drove straight ahead I would reach my destination. What I didn’t bank on was the road works along the way. Yeah, it’s tough being a student nurse but perhaps now reflecting on it I can see that a detour wasn’t such a bad thing.
For those of you who followed my previous blogs you will have a good idea of what went on and more importantly the reaction to them. I just want to set the record clear. I never ever wanted sympathy, nor to portray myself as a victim. The simple truth is that just like a driver I got distracted, I took my eyes off the road for a second and bam…I crashed. So yes I totally agree with the cynics, those who questioned my commitment and worth to this course. I was also thankful for those who realised that there was still potential there. I’ve had my MOT, I’m already to go and I have to say that my time spent in the garage (aka the call centre) wasn’t such a loss.
You see the call centre job served two purposes. 1) It reminded me on a daily basis that I didn’t want to be there longer than necessary 2) It allowed me to save money so as I’m not so financially pushed this year (huge weight off the shoulders!)Although some were critical of my decision not to seek a fulltime position as a nursing assistant, I needed something that didn’t allow me to stay comfortable and believe it or not customers meant patients were never far from my mind.
Customers vs Patients, you may ask how they can possibly be similar. Well they are both consumers, they both require a service and both deserve the highest customer experience. Unlike customers patient don’t always have the choice of who delivers that service. A customer can choose a fridge from Dixon’s, Argos or a number of other electrical goods stores. A patient on the other hand has very little control of whose hands their life is in. On reflection maybe it’s more so important that patients have the best possible “customer service” they possibly can. Can we be more courteous? Can we try and be as honest as we possibly can when it comes to waiting times? Perhaps using the autonomy skills we are taught at university really could enhance a visit to hospital. A customer can return a product or service under a guarantee, with health there are no guarantees. That is why it is so important to make each shift count. We should feel privileged to be working along side these patients, playing a part in their recovery. As student nurses we should be paving the way in high standards and exceeding expectations. Just because patients have little say in their health provider does not mean they should expect anything less than a first class service.
I know we’re tired. Overworked. Undervalued. Like customers, we have a choice. And we chose to nurse. So let’s make sure we are the best we can be and anyone feeling a little demotivated…..I recommend a weekend job on the phone, you’ll soon be begging for early shifts!
So it’s back to university tomorrow. Back to the essays and the placements. This time I am absolutely determined to stick to the speed limit and call the AA before the timing belt goes!

Erin Docherty is a student nurse


Readers' comments (6)

  • we may choose to be nurses but we don't choose the bad pay, the attitude toward nursing or the terrible hours we work.

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  • I think that yes we do chose to nurse however you have to love this job in order to do it and job satisfaction makes the job worthwile, no one goes into nursing for the money as we all know there isnt any. And it doesnt matter how much of a bad day your having, knowing that there is always someone else more worse off than you i think helps with the awkward hours and sometimes negative attitude as they are never going to go away either.

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  • Well fellow Anonymous, if you choose to nurse, you know full well what you are letting yourself in for. Nursing is not a well paid job, never has been and never will be. So those who choose to nurse must accept that it will never make them rich financially. Surely you noticed the unsocial hours during your training? Or did you have your eyes shut the whole way through. Some people are true idiots.

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  • Sometimes you need a break to make things clear and to focus again. Its easy to get overwhelmed, fustrated and angry in this work .. not usually with the patients might I add!! It can be tough going. I've been a HCA for a long time trying to get on to my nursing and a few years ago I walked away disheartened by the nhs and nursing but yea it only took a few months and new place of work to make me realise again how much I loved and missed it. Where else will you experience all the things we do? the genuine gratitude and stories you could never make up! This is more than earning a crust being a nurse has to be something you enjoy or what is the point. you wont benefit the patients. Glad your back on track now :)

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  • L Stephens

    Stick with it Erin. Bit confused by some of your metaphors but I get the gist of your story. Good luck and ignore some of the rather rude previous comments.

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  • well done erin for knowing when to take time out and reflect. i had a similar experience and it was invaluable, it prompted me to take ownership of what i was choosing and change it for the better. it also made me realise the reality of the environment we work in as nurses. the previous rude comments remind me very clearly of what i moved away from as unacceptable. good luck, let the goal be the path!

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