To sum up the role of the nurse and nursing as a profession in one single quote is a near impossible thing to do. Our role is so diverse, taking place across a variety of different settings including clinical, research and education, and it is continually evolving. That is the beauty of nursing; but how do we define what makes a modern nurse? Is it possible to find a suitable quote? Are the quotes of old from the Nightingale and Seacole generation still appropriate today? I guess that’s what this whole challenge is about: to transform the perceptions of nursing.
One quote I found profoundly moving I heard this year at RCN Congress in Belfast during a discussion on suicide. The speaker, Paul Watson, disclosed a very personal story and during his disclosure he used this phrase:
“I have your back, you’ve got my ear”.
So simple yet so powerful – it truly resonated with me and I think this quote sums up nursing perfectly.
“I have your back…”
As nurses we are advocates for patients and their families: it is a requirement of the Nursing and Midwifery (NMC) Code. We always strive to do our best for them; or we should. We aren’t nurses for fame or fortune, we are nurses because we want to make a difference to people when they are at their most vulnerable. For me, this quote describes that ethos.
“…you’ve got my ear.”
Listening – truly listening – to patients and their families is so important. Whether this is in order to help allay their concerns, to respect their wishes to refuse or accept treatment in line with patient choice, or just to show them that they have been heard and are appreciated. We are often guilty of talking the talk, but I ask how much do we really listen? This quote makes me want to do better.
Lastly, this quote also speaks to me about advocating for and providing support for our colleagues and peers. Peer-support, strong supportive leadership, and mental health support for nurses and nursing students is so important. Whilst we are good at looking after our patients, we are often not so good at looking after ourselves. This quote speaks to me and reminds me that we must be there for each other, feel like we can reach out for help when needed, and that most importantly, help will be given free from judgement or stigma.
So, it may not be a famous quote, yet, but I believe it should be. So thank you Paul:
I have your back, you’ve got my ear
Be kind to yourself and others,