Clare and Craig catch up and discuss their reasoning for choosing the episode title, “When Mistakes Happen”. They discuss whether universities …Retaining the Passion: When Mistakes Happen.
I was very kindly asked to write this blog post for the Royal College of Nursing’s Feminist Network.
Fact: nursing is an evidenced-based profession; as we traverse throughout our university nursing education, we learn to be a nurse whilst honing our critical thinking skills.
When I took to the stage, speaking in favour of the resolution at the Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) Congress 2018, “That this meeting of RCN Congress asks Council to develop and promote a strategy to recruit more men into the nursing profession.”, I was a second-year university nursing student. I was in my first term as one of the Scottish representatives on the RCN Students’ Committee before taking over as committee chair in January 2019. At the time, I argued:
“Nursing is one of the most important professions in the world. At some point in their lives, everyone, whether directly or through a loved one, will come in contact with a nurse. It takes a very particular kind of person to be a nurse. They don’t do it for the fame; they certainly don’t do it for the fortune. It is something inherent within them. I was inspired to get into nursing by an extraordinary and inspirational nurse: my mum – a woman who has dedicated her entire working life to her patients and their families. I am proud to be a student nurse, and I cannot wait to be a nurse. But, I do not consider myself a male student nurse. I will not be a male nurse. However, I am passionate about getting more men into nursing, the right men who have the necessary values to be nurses. The reason: I believe the nursing workforce must be as diverse as the communities we serve in terms of gender, ethnicity and race, sexuality, gender and sexual orientation, and all other protected characteristics. At the moment, it is not. I want to promote nursing as a wonderful, rewarding career for all. And I want to encourage men into nursing who may not know it is a viable career option for them.
Eleven per cent of nurses are male; this figure has been largely unchanged since the 1980s. However, the idea of a campaign to recruit men into nursing has raised some serious debate. Undeniably, there is a serious disparity of men at senior management and professoriate level in nursing; this is an issue that must be addressed. We need to establish why this is happening. That being said, the proposed campaign to recruit men into nursing is concerned with the number of men working at grassroots, Band 5 level; the nurses who interact with patients and their families on a day-to-day basis. So, I believe it is essential we do not conflate these two issues. We won’t solve one problem by ignoring another. We need to diversify the nursing workforce, and we need to do it now.
How do we do this? Personally, I don’t believe we should be giving scholarships or grants to attract men into nursing. Women, remarkable women, have paved the way in our profession for years, which we should be immensely proud of and celebrate. It would be a disservice to these women, and all women, to positively discriminate men in this way. I think we can solve the issue of the disparity at senior levels and attract more men into nursing in the same way.
Nursing needs a serious image overhaul. We need to educate the public about what it means to be a nurse and what we do. Too often, we still hear that nursing is “women’s work” or that if you are clever, you should push yourself into a career more difficult than nursing. I am deeply offended when I hear the latter. I had the grades to be a doctor; I chose to be a nurse. Nursing is a degree educated profession with many diverse career options. We need to showcase this and celebrate nursing as a career for all. The problem, I believe, is society’s view of women and “women’s work”. How do we change that?
We should be educating children from primary school age. We have generations of societal views to change, and this is where opinions are formed. We need to have nurses and student nurses from all backgrounds and genders going into primary and secondary schools. Have them meet modern nurses. That way, we will hopefully encourage not only more young boys but more young girls into nursing”.
Whilst I still agree with some of what I originally stated; I have come to realise, as I have honed my critical thinking skills and educated myself further on women’s issues in nursing and society in general, that my views were, to put it mildly, utopian, and more strongly, damaging to women. Something I am disappointed in, as I consider myself a feminist ally, something I have discussed at length in previous blog posts and recurringly throughout my podcast with fellow registered nurse Clare Manley, “Retaining the Passion: Journeys Through Nursing.”
Reflecting on my Congress argument, I am horrified that my original statement encroached on the “vocational” nursing element, something I now vehemently argue against. Who did I think I was, Nadine Dorries? Nursing is a highly-skilled, evidence-based profession, deserving of proper remuneration with robust and strengthened terms and conditions. However, I still think that the nursing workforce needs to reflect the communities we serve, particularly at the grassroots level. Of that, my viewpoint remains unchanged.
Examples of where I believe the profession could benefit from more nurses who happen to be men include specific mental health services. Men make up three-quarters of all suicides: fact. And there is anecdotal and empirical evidence that some, not all, men prefer to be treated by nurses who are men, particularly heterosexual men who have similar lived experiences. I understand this.
I have also borne witness, working both as a student and registered nurse, to situations where a female patient is quite rightly always offered to choose whether to receive personal care or to be catheterised, for example, from a nurse who happens to be male or female. Many of whom prefer to choose a female. I do not take offence to this. And it is something I completely agree with, especially due to the increase in violence against women. But due to the lack of nurses, who happen to be men, working in patient-facing roles, this same choice is rarely given to male patients, as it is not always physically possible. There have been times when these men have told me they would prefer to be treated by a man but have been unable to be. Ultimately, should everything we do not come down to patient choice?
Another potential argument I was made aware of is that there is empirical evidence that by having more men enter the nursing workforce, we see real-time increases in pay, terms and conditions. Interestingly, when I had an educational exchange placement between my second and third year as a student in the United States, many female nurses, including senior female Professors of Nursing, who were members of the American Nurses Association, amongst other unions, were shocked that we in the UK were not proactively pushing for more men to enter the profession, as they had seen these real-time improvements Stateside. A good argument, I thought. However, again, as I have become more critical and made myself more educated, whilst this has had this effect Stateside, it has also had the detrimental effect of pushing women out of a field of work they never thought was “beneath them”. So, surely this cannot be the correct answer?
Throughout my five years of being a nursing student and now a registered nurse, I have learned that this is an incredibly nuanced argument. But I genuinely believe it is one we are addressing wrongly. Men should not be seen as an untapped workforce to plug our recruitment gaps. We are not the “white knights” who will ride in to save the profession. We are not a minority population we should be catering for, and we most definitely should not be “butching up” the profession to get more men to enter it. Those recruitment videos of manly men running around accident and emergency departments physically make me cringe. Women have never seen nursing as beneath them; men have. Society has taught men to because of society’s view and value of women’s work, and we must address that problem, which was one of my original 2018 arguments that remains unchanged.
As my opinion of men in nursing campaigns has evolved, I have gotten into many arguments on social media with fellow nurses who happen to be men, those I used to and still respect. And, subsequently, I have been unfollowed by many in their droves. Luckily, I am not that thin-skinned. But I would rather stand alongside my nursing sisters; acknowledge their issues, and fight for the nursing profession to be recognised for exactly how amazing it is. If that brings more men into the profession, then great. But it should not be our focus. And it never should have been.
Craig Davidson RN BSc (Hons)
WARNING: This episode may be potentially emotional or triggering for some of our listeners. Please take care of yourself first and foremost and reach…Retaining the Passion: Violence Against Women – But Nothing Really Happened.
I suppose it fits that this blog is coming out on Mother’s Day because I dedicate this blog post as a love letter to my mum, the woman who has played the most significant role in shaping me into the man I am today. But I dedicate it not only to my mum but to all the mothers, daughters, sisters and all the incredible women who have inspired me, taught me, and supported me. I celebrate and thank every one of you.
I do not know if it’s because I identify as a gay man, but I have always been inspired by female “bosses”, by empowered women. In fiction, from Cheetara in the Thundercats to Storm, Jean Grey and Rogue in the X-Men, from Kimberley the Pink Power Ranger to Mildred Hubble and Hermione Granger. I identified with them much more than any male characters. I am now consistently inspired by strong women, to name a few: Jacinda Ardern, Michelle Obama, Malala Yousafzai. The list is endless.
I have long considered myself a feminist. But, recently, I have been having an existential debate with myself about whether I can be. I am a white, cisgender man; with that, I realise I have been born into a life of immense societal privilege. I have never had to fight the patriarchy or society’s systemic mistreatment of women. But, I have borne witness to it. And at times, I have stayed quiet. I am ashamed of that. And I say, no longer. I will listen to every woman’s story she has to share and help her to amplify it should she wish. I will call out every mistreatment against women I see, and I implore all men to do the same thing. It is every man’s responsibility to recognise their inherent societal privilege and join the fight to dismantle the patriarchy. We must all empower and uplift women and fight for gender equality. I feel this even more profoundly working as a nurse in a profession dominated by 89% women.
However, back to whether men can call or consider themselves feminists, I guess that’s up to them. But now, I consider myself a feminist ally. And I promise I will do all I can to empower women. And I believe every man should too.
Since posting on Monday on International Women’s Day, I have been doing a lot of reflecting. I have been utterly shaken by Sarah Everard’s murder, by the outpouring of stories from the women I follow on social media, those from my female family and friends on how affected they have been and continuously are by the actions of men. I cannot begin to imagine how they feel. I am horrified and so scared that my niece, sister, mum and all my female friends live in a world where any man is potentially their stalker, their abuser, their rapist, their killer.
While it may not be all men, how do women know which man it is? There are no denying statistics: males commit 97% of sexual offences, 90% of murderers are male, and 87% of crimes committed against another person are committed by males. These facts are undeniable. So, how do we address this?
However, I am not only addressing the grave fears women have regarding sexual assault, domestic abuse and murder. But the everyday abuse and perceived societal norms women are forced to accept from men: the catcalling; the derogatory sexist comments that go unchallenged; them changing their routes home and making sure they are in well-lit areas; them texting their friends and families when they are leaving and carrying their keys in their hands for safety. The majority of men do not have to do this.
We should not be educating women on how to keep them safe. We should be instilling empathy into young men, teaching them to respect women, that they are not better and have no power over women, that brutality and violence against women are simply not acceptable or allowed, that it’s their problem. As a society, we have got it all so wrong.
I also believe a big part of the problem is nurture and role modelling. We become who we are because of how we are shaped. As a society, as well as educating young men on all of the above, we also need to nurture young men to become caring individuals who will then care for and cherish others. Cherish the women in their lives. We are products of our upbringing and social conditioning. We need to enable young men and all men to discuss their mental health struggles, not to internalise these, because in doing so, this can then potentially cause them to lash out and turn into one of these abusers and statistics.
I believe that men need to step up and join women in fighting these causes and the dismantling of the patriarchy; because only men can end violence against women, the constant threat of terror, harassment and death, and the societal norms women are forced to endure. I don’t believe women should be leading the charge on this alone because they have been doing this for centuries. Men have to join in and take positive, affirmative action because it’s men, not women, who have to change.
Love and light,
At #RCNNQN and #RCNStudents, we decided to start the #SmallActionsBigChanges campaign to counteract a lot of the recent negativity that has been …Let Me Be Honest with You
Craig and Clare catch up and discuss their first times: Clare winning the prestigious Student Nursing Times Student Nurse of the Year (Mental Health)…Retaining the Passion: General Practice Nursing
As you know, our podcast is unaffiliated. However, this episode focuses specifically on what the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) as the professional …Retaining the Passion: What is the Royal College of Nursing doing for its newly registered nurses?
Now, anyone who knows me knows just how much I hate the warlike rhetoric that is often used when discussing nursing, particularly concerning the …The impact of Covid-19 on new registrants and what this means for our profession’s future.
I’ve thought long and hard about what I wanted to put in this blog post. And why I genuinely believe the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) should rejoin the International Council of Nurses (ICN).
For the RCN, I am a member of the Greater Glasgow branch. I was a Scottish representative on the RCN’s Students’ Committee from January 2018 to December 2019, becoming chair in 2019. Now, I currently am a steering committee member on the RCN Nurses in Management and Leadership Forum and an RCN Newly Qualified Nurses Twitter curator.
Now, as with all nurses, I would consider myself a critical thinker, and I have done my research. I am not one to go with the tide. Quite often, I’m sure the opposite could be said of me. But, before I get into that, I want to explain a bit more about why I consider myself a global nurse.
I have always been conscious of global and social justice issues. My dad’s nickname for me as a young child was actually “eco-warrior”. I consistently reminded him we needed to be turning off light switches and recycling. However, I digress.
I first became aware of global nursing when I was chosen to be one of a group of nursing students from my university, Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), to take part in an educational exchange trip with our international counterparts, California State University, Long Beach. I know, how awful, a summer in California. What I found so fascinating was not just the similarities we had as global nursing students, but the differences. And how much we had to learn from each other.
Fast forward to my fourth Honours year at university. I became even more interested in global nursing when I undertook my advanced modules in public and global health. For my global nursing assessment, my report focussed on the factors increasing the HIV prevalence rate among Zimbabwean sex workers. This report discussed the nursing and healthcare strategies involved in addressing this. What I found so fascinating was that in this “low-income country”, as defined by the World Bank, nurses were not only providing but leading interventions. These are solutions we could be replicating back here in the United Kingdom. We have so much to learn from them. Due to this, when applying for my first staff nurse role, I actively sought out a position, successfully gaining a post in infectious (communicable) diseases in May 2020.
Subsequently, I am now undertaking a distance-learning, part-time Master of Public Health at GCU while working as a staff nurse. I have an active interest in global, public, and sexual health, particularly in blood-borne viruses and health protection measures. And one day, I hope to work on global and public health policy as a nurse researcher and academic. Possibly even as a governmental advisor, who knows? Furthermore, wanting to become part of a wider, global nursing network, I was invited to become a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honour Society’s first Scotland Chapter, Omega Xi. And I am now part of their Nightingale Challenge for novice nurse leaders.
Back to global health: “Global health” has become the popular term used when discussing health issues that transcend national boundaries. It is a field of study and practice, which seeks to understand and provide solutions to address the socio-economic, physical and behavioural factors that lead to global health inequities to achieve optimal health for all global citizens. Global health action can be either proactive or reactive, depending on the issue, and requires all nations and actors, including non-governmental organisations to share a common desire to address these using a transnational, multidisciplinary approach. We only need to look at the Covid-19 pandemic, which illustrates how much we have needed to pull together internationally.
So, that takes me back to my original argument as to why I think the RCN should rejoin the ICN. Now, I know the fees we, the RCN, paid the ICN were in excess of £400,000 and were a significant deciding factor in our reason behind withdrawing during our Annual General Meeting (AGM) vote. The ICN requires funding from its associate members to function. However, recent evidence has come to light, highlighting that no one member association will be required to pay more than ten per cent of the ICN’s annual income.
I genuinely believe the RCN’s withdrawal from the ICN caused them to reflect upon their governance and finance structure. That being said, I passionately believe “high” and “middle-high” income countries, as defined by the World Bank, which the UK falls under, have a moral and ethical duty and responsibility to support poorer nations. However, it goes far beyond that. It would be arrogant to assume that it’s just about what we would gain being associate members of the ICN. I think it’s more about what we can get from working with over 130 other countries with shared global nursing issues and goals.
Now, more than ever, our nursing goals are global: recruitment and retention of nursing staff; fair pay, terms and conditions for nurses; the advancement of our profession, and ultimately, achieving the best we possibly can for the communities we look after. I believe that no one country can tackle these as an island. And we only need to look at Brexit, an entirely different debate, to see how increasingly insular the UK risks becoming.
It is my understanding that the RCN’s November member consultation will be asking if RCN members believe the RCN should rejoin the ICN. Yet, it will also highlight the fact there are other global and European nursing associations we could be members of. However, none of these other associations has the ICN’s unique relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO). Why would we not want that? That relationship with the WHO is so special. The ICN has a seat at the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of WHO. They were responsibly for lobbying for the WHO, both internationally and in Europe, to have a Chief Nursing Officer. And many people may not know, but they were co-authors of the WHO’s “State of the World’s Nursing Report – 2020, among many other things.
I believe that to have the most global influence; we need to be at the table. And for me, that is for us to be members of the ICN. And for us to have a seat at the World Health Assembly. So, whether this blog post encourages you to align your views with mine, I at least hope it gives you a more informed opinion and encourages you to do further research.
All the best,
I was utterly blown away by this year’s entrants. Many of who moved me to tears with their stories of how they got into nursing, and what they have achieved; not only as individual student nurses who have excelled in their field, but the extra work they have done for their fellow students, and the individuals they work with and care for. Each entrant’s passion and enthusiasm for nursing was inspiring. And every one of them would be a worthy winner. Sadly, this can’t be the case. But every one of them should be so proud.
I’m so looking forward to celebrating with the shortlist given the unprecedented challenges this year because wow, what a year it’s been for nursing!
When we knew 2020 would be the year of the nurse and the midwife, could we ever have expected just how amazingly our profession would have risen to every challenge thrown at it? From the final year nursing students, who actively engaged in extended placements joining the workforce to face the pandemic head-on, to those who had to for one reason or another adapt to a new theory route. Then there are the newly registered nurses, who have started at such an extraordinary time. And who have kept going. It’s not been easy. We’d be lying if we said it was. So, what a better way to celebrate than by getting together, all be it virtually to celebrate excellence in our profession.
So what’s my advice for the students watching the Student Nursing Times Awards online today that are graduating or who have stepped up to respond to the pandemic?
Well, I’d say; remember, these are challenging times, they are strange. And yes, it’s a word we’ve so often heard overused, but they genuinely are unprecedented times. Remember, though, why you got into nursing, your personal, unique reason. The one that is special to and drives you.
Always keep sight of that. These times will pass, but you don’t want to have burnt out before you’ve truly begun. Remember, ask for help when you need it. You’re never going to know everything. And no one expects you to. Be kind to yourself. And find your people, your peers who are sharing your lived experience and debrief with them. Also, reach out to more senior nurses in your team. They want to help support you. And to those students who stepped up, thank you. For those who couldn’t, you are not forgotten and are our future too.
So what did I enjoy most about judging this year? Well, I’d say what I most enjoyed was the calibre of the entrants and hearing their lived experiences. By nature, I’m a storyteller and love stories. And I left that judging day feeling so inspired by the future of our profession; because we are in very safe hands.
So, why do I think it’s essential that we continue to celebrate achievements like this even if we can’t meet in person?
Well, the whole world has changed, and we are doing so many things virtually now that we can no longer do in person. And these remarkable individuals deserve their day of celebration. Online, or in person, we will still have a fantastic time celebrating you and your outstanding achievements!
So, to those winners, congratulations. And to those shortlisted, well done to you too. Judging was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. And you are all winners in my eyes because you are passionate about nursing and helping others. Is there anything better than that?
All my love, Craig.
Sometimes, it’s perfectly okay to be proud of your personal and professional achievements every once in a while. And for Clare Manley and my tiny seed of an idea, “Retaining the Passion: Journeys Through Nursing”, a podcast for nurses and those interested in nursing issues, hosted by newly registered nurses to be recognised by and featured in Sigma European Region’s October Newsletter really does mean the world to us.
It is a true passion project for us. And although we often struggle to find a work life balance, for us this doesn’t feel like work. There also appears to be real tangible benefits. And not only are Clare and I learning from our reflections but we appear to be helping other student, novice and more experienced nurses too.
All our love and appreciation.
Craig and Clare.
Clare and Craig are both passionate advocates of global nursing and as student nurses were fortunate to experience international exchange placements …Retaining the Passion: Global Nursing
Clare and Craig very much wanted to release this episode a day early to coincide with #WorldMentalHealthDay. They share their reasonings for …Retaining the Passion: Person-Centred Care.
A very personal episode for Clare and Craig. First, Clare talks about completing her preceptorship, and Craig discusses his guest lecture opportunity…Retaining The Passion: Supporting Newly Registered Nurses
Clare and Craig are releasing this very special episode as part of Sepsis Awareness Month on September 13th, World Sepsis Day. Clare interviews newly…Retaining The Passion: Sepsis Awareness Special
Clare and Craig catch up and are joined by Dr Gemma Stacey, Director of the Florence Nightingale Foundation Academy. Together they talk about making …Retaining The Passion: Planning Your Development
We catch up with Clare and Craig who tell us what they’ve been up to since we last heard from them. They are joined by Professor Anne Marie Rafferty,…Retaining The Passion: Covid-19 – The Impact On Nursing
Clare and Craig discuss their reasons for choosing the theme, “What’s in a Name?”. Also, the many names and titles nurses have. And why this can be …Retaining The Passion: What’s In A Name
Clare and Craig discuss their reasons for choosing the theme, “Raising Your Voice”, and why they think nurses should raise their voices. They are …Retaining The Passion: Raising Your Voice
Clare and Craig share their personal reasons for choosing the theme, “Finding Hope”, and discuss what hope means to them. They are joined by guests,…Retaining the Passion: Finding Hope
Clare and Craig introduce themselves and talk about their journeys into nursing. They discuss their aims and hopes for this podcast series. And …Retaining the Passion: An Introduction
I always knew I was “different”. Aged five, my first ever crush was the Little Mermaid’s Prince Eric (I mean, who didn’t love those blue eyes?).
And I vehemently do not buy into the fact that sexuality is a choice. But I wish I was braver and came out earlier, saving myself years of trauma. But only do it when it’s right for you.
One of the reasons I didn’t come out till I was 18 and essentially ran away to London to study acting, where I could come out and be my authentic self, was because I was scared of letting my family, my parents and especially my dad down. However, they are now among my biggest supporters.
I know that sadly everyone isn’t that lucky. Coming out will always be difficult. For me, coming out to myself was the hardest thing. I was heavily involved in the church as a child, and couldn’t understand how God could have made me “wrong”. Also, I grew up in the times of Section 28. A devastating time. I was bullied at school for being “gay” before I’d even acknowledged it to myself. But teachers couldn’t discuss with me that being gay was okay. Therefore, I internalised my homophobia: the biggest regret of my life.
That is why allyship and supporting our #LGBT+ communities is so important. No one should feel forced to come out if they don’t want to. Never forget: your journey is your journey. If you ever need to talk, though, my dms on Twitter are always open.
Live your life, be you, and love whoever the hell you like! #ComingOutDay2020
All my love now and always, Craig www.twitter.com/CraigDavidson85
I’ve just completed my first four weeks as a newly qualified registered nurse. Like many of you, I’ve taken up my first post, working in infectious …Help! I’m a newly qualified nurse starting in the middle of a pandemic.
This week, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Newly Qualified Nurses launched on Twitter, reaching over 1000 followers in its first 24 hours, …Welcome to RCN Newly Qualified Nurses
I cannot quite believe the 30-day blog challenge for NHS Horizons ‘transforming the perceptions of nursing and midwifery‘ has come to an end. I have thoroughly enjoyed reflecting on my thoughts, writing them all down, and putting them out there into the ether. I cannot thank you enough for all your comments and engagement. It has been overwhelming.
As for the other wonderfully brave bloggers and vloggers who have joined in with the challenge, I have loved reading and watching your contributions each day, and feel as though I know you all a little better. When your opinions have aligned with mine, it is nice not to feel alone; and when they haven’t, it has expanded my thinking and offered me an alternative viewpoint.
This challenge has made a blogger of me, and I hope to continue for a long time; as long as people want to hear what I have to say. And maybe even when they don’t – I’m not scared to put my head above the parapet and challenge for what I believe in, backed up with evidence, of course.
So, the time has come for the last topic of this challenge: “5 top tips in nursing”. I am just at the start of my nursing journey, still in education, and have much to learn. I hope it is a long and fruitful career, and that my passion for nursing continues as I develop and progress as a nurse. Therefore, I feel a little ill-equipped to offer “top tips” to others in nursing. That is why I am choosing to offer tips for myself to follow as I progress throughout my nursing journey instead. I think they may apply to other student nurses, and perhaps even qualified nurses too.
Always remember why you chose to be a nurse:
There will be times when you are exhausted; times when you are pushed beyond what you think is possible; times when you want to break down and cry. That is okay. Hopefully, the safe staffing legislation that is getting rolled out by RCN Scotland and the Scottish Government will help, and you must always fight for this: to protect both patients and yourself. But there are times when you will question why you ever wanted to be a nurse.
I hope this doesn’t often happen, as you love what you do, and I don’t want your passion for the profession ever to be extinguished. But, when it does happen, and it will; remember why you chose to be a nurse. You wanted to make a positive difference to people’s lives; you know you can. You wanted to be that nurse that people always remembered fondly with a smile, who went the extra mile for them and their families. The nurse who cared, but who was also really good at their job; the nurse who always acted in their best interests. Be that nurse. That is who you are, and why you chose to be a nurse above anything else you could have been.
And Craig, remember that looking after your self is equally as important as looking after those you care for. Make time for yourself, your family and friends.
Use your voice to champion the nursing profession:
You know you will always do this. You have been doing it since you first started your nursing education. But remember how important your voice is: your one voice. Your one voice can make all the difference. Be that voice. Be a nursing advocate, a nursing champion.
Inspire and encourage others to use their voices. And if they feel they cannot speak up then advocate for them, remembering to channel their voices without a personal agenda. Welcome new voices into the fold; never exclude people or make them feel intimidated or unwelcome. Never become one of the people who shoot down those with different viewpoints.
Encourage discussion, debate and resolution, always with a questioning mind. Remember that you are not always right; allow yourself to be informed by those who know better, without being defensive. But, don’t be afraid to champion your cause when it is something you passionately believe in and can back up with evidence. Don’t bow down because it is the easy option or you feel scared that people won’t like you for saying something against the status quo. Just because it’s the way it’s always been done, does not mean it’s the way it always should be done.
Craig, remember that with all nursing voices together, we can create a revolution. We can make a difference: for patients, their families, and for nurses. Help lead the revolution.
The best leaders lead by example:
Being a leader does not mean being the boss or the person in charge. You are leading by example now in your advocacy and activism work while you are still in education.
When you become a staff nurse, you can lead by example by always being a critical-thinker, a problem-solver, and by following the best evidence to guide your practice. Lead by example by helping others. Try to be the nurse that others look up to. Not because you’re special – you’re not – but because you wouldn’t be happy in yourself if you weren’t pushing yourself to be the best nurse that you can be.
Craig, if you do ever enter a management role, remember that respect is earned, not given freely, and works both ways. That team cohesion and productivity is best achieved when everyone feels respected and valued. Lead by example then. Never ask someone to do something you either haven’t done or wouldn’t do yourself. Don’t breathe down people’s necks. Delegate and trust others. Offer support and guidance when needed. Know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses; celebrate their strengths, and help them develop their weaknesses. Don’t govern by fear and intimidation, be nurturing – remember what you heard at Congress: “I have your back, you’ve got my ear.”
Never stop pushing yourself to learn and develop:
You are ambitious, there is so much you want to achieve. Keep that fire burning. But, learn how to be a good staff nurse first. There is no point running before you can walk. Have goals; but, keep them manageable. And don’t feel like you’ve failed if you need to change or adapt them. That being said, never stop pushing yourself to learn and develop as a nurse.
Keep questioning; keep reading; keep going on additional training courses. Please promise me you will go back to university to push yourself academically and to develop professionally.
Craig, you can do it. Just do it. Believe in yourself. Yes, it may be hard, but it will be worth it in the end. And you can make a difference.
Inspire student nurses – they are the future:
Remember the tweet you read:
You love being a student nurse, and you have had some fantastic mentors. Take elements from all of them and add in a pinch of what is unique to you. Always, support and inspire students to be the best they can be. Find out their learning style, what works for them, and foster growth. Be proud of them.
Challenge them, but never, ever ridicule them or make them feel stupid or less than. Student nurses have given up so much in their pursuit of nursing, and we ask so much of them. Remember, nursing is not easy. University is not easy. Remember not to “eat your young” – you won’t, but you find that expression hilarious, though strangely apt for some nurses.
Lastly, Craig, remember student nurses will often have just as must to teach you as you them. They are the ones being taught the most up-to-date information. And nursing education will evolve; so, adapt with it. Things change for a reason. It’s usually for the better. Don’t look at your history with rose-tinted glasses. Look to the future of our nursing profession – our student nurses.
So that’s that. With this final post, the 30-day challenge is over. Thank you so much for reading. And I hope to be back blogging again soon. I will miss talking to you all every day.
I have been open and frank throughout my blog posts about the challenges I have faced in the past regards my mental health. The insight these experiences have given me, I believe, will make me a better nurse. I am more compassionate, empathetic, understanding and non-judgemental because of them. Having experienced mental health problems is a major contributing factor in my advocacy for better mental health support for nurses and nursing students. Also, why I champion the inclusion of mental health conditions and how best to support individuals who live with them in nursing education for all fields of practice.
I mention this because to understand my proudest moment; you have to know how much I have been able to turn things around in under three years – from being at my lowest point ever to where I am now. I am proud of that and grateful to those who have helped and supported me.
However, my proudest moment is the advocacy work I have undertaken on behalf of other student nurses and for the nursing profession.
As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, I am about to enter my third year studying BSc Nursing Studies (Adult) at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU). I first completed an HNC in Care & Administrative Practice at Glasgow Clyde College, which allowed me to apply for direct entry into the second year at GCU. I gained one of 28 places on this articulation programme. Throughout my college and university education, I have always been a champion of the student’ voice and was elected class representative. Subsequently, I am now the School Officer for the Department of Nursing and Community Health at GCU, as well as Vice President of GCU’s Nursing Society. I passionately believe in advocating for students and nurses; especially around the areas of inclusivity, diversity, mental health support, and bespoke funding for nursing students.
My passion for promoting and developing an inclusive nursing recruitment drive led me to apply to be the Scottish representative on the Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) UK Students’ Committee, which I was successfully elected to. I have voiced my concerns about making nursing more attractive to men and raised this at RCN Congress this year. Subsequently, I am now supporting lead of the student committee’s school project, which aims to promote nursing as an attractive profession to all.
I am proud of these achievements but prouder to be able to give a voice to others who may not feel as though they can. I will always be an advocate for others; it’s something I am incredibly passionate about. However, I will always aim to advocate without promoting a personal agenda. True advocates listen and relay the concerns and opinions of those they represent. They must be transparent and honest, maintaining a continuous open dialogue, which is what I do now and how I will endeavour to continue.
There are a plethora of words that could be chosen to describe a nurse. In this current climate, undervalued, exhausted, overstretched and underpaid are a few that come to mind.
Nurses have faced years of hardship and have been beaten down during a period when services have been stretched to breaking point. First, there was the pay freeze, then the pitiful extended 1% pay cap. Workloads have increased, often to unsafe levels, and many nurses have left the profession, burnt out, disenchanted, and genuinely fearful for patient safety. Also, there’s been a decrease in student nursing applicants, threatening the very future of nursing. The removal of the NHS nursing bursary being the direct cause in certain parts of the UK.
This all adds up to a disaster: for our profession, for the NHS, and for the public – we all deserve better. Nurses deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, just as patients are too. Nurses deserve to be paid appropriately for the work they do. And student nurses deserve bespoke nursing funding to support them throughout their studies for what is not a conventional degree programme.
Nursing requires the essential values of compassion and empathy, amongst many others, but it is also so much more than that. It’s a degree-educated, graduate-entry profession, requiring constant critical thinking and the use of the best evidence-based practice to protect patient safety and deliver the best outcomes. Nurses are often the coordinators of care, and they’re also researchers, educators, pioneers.
However, the purpose of this 30-day blog challenge is to transform the perceptions of nursing. So, I would rather focus on the positives of nursing. I love our profession and being a student nurse, and despite all the negativity surrounding it, I cannot wait to be a nurse.
I think the 6Cs of nursing describe nursing well – care, compassion, competence, communication, courage, and commitment. However, perhaps they are a little basic. So, what can I add to these in my “5 words that describe a nurse“?
I have purposefully not chosen the word resilient. Though, I agree nurses are resilient and have to be so – for both themselves and patients. ‘Resilience’ is often used as a buzzword. I do not believe nurses or nursing students are offered enough mental health or emotional support in what is a very demanding, all-consuming profession. Nurses are expected to be able to deal with anything that is thrown at them. If they are struggling, they have to be more resilient. Do they? Is that the answer? Would it not be better and more healthy to have reflective conversations with peers or senior members of the team that could identify ways to help them cope; rather than tell them to toughen up? Resilience is, of course, important, and nurses could not be freely weeping on the wards all day. But they should be supported in this resilience, and I don’t believe resilience is a badge to be worn with pride and honour. It’s a bit ‘stiff upper lip’ for me. With regards emotional and mental health support, I am aware this is different for mental health nurses – so I speak for adult nursing, which is what I know.
In my choice of 5 words that describe a nurse, I have also not included the words kind, caring, empathetic and compassionate. Not because I do not consider these to be necessary skills or words that describe the nurse, quite the opposite. However, these words I feel are a given. All nurses should possess them. The purpose of my chosen words is to help transform public opinion of the nurse – to educate them on our role further. So, here they are.
There is a reason nurses come out on top time and time again in polls regarding the most trusted professions. I believe advocacy is a significant reason behind this. As is laid out in the Nursing and Midwifery (NMC) Code (2015), nurses must advocate on behalf of their patients. When patients and their families are at their most vulnerable, they need someone to be championing their cause and making sure they fully understand everything that is going on with regards their diagnosis, treatment and continued care. When they do not, or if they do not have the capacity, then the nurse must act in their best interests at all times.
For nurses, advocacy goes beyond this. Or at least I believe it should. They should be advocating for their peers, for student nurses and championing the profession as a whole. Some nurses have often felt as though their voice cannot make a difference. But it can. I would always encourage nurses to make their voices heard. If they feel they can’t, then it is up to other nurses to advocate on their behalf. If we don’t make a noise and raise our concerns, then we can’t complain about our poor treatment.
Nurses are more often than not the coordinators of care for patients. They liaise with other members of the multidisciplinary healthcare team and social care services to make sure that care runs as seamlessly as possible.
Nurses are the backbone of hospitals and care in the community; without them healthcare as we know it would cease to function, which is why the profession deserves to be respected and valued.
No two days are ever the same. This constant change is part of the reason I find nursing so exciting. But it is for that reason nurses must be adaptable. They have to be able to react in the moment and adapt.
Being adaptable helps protect patient safety and achieves optimal clinical outcomes. The need for constant adaptability is why I am against the “this is the way we’ve always done it” mentality and the rose-tinted nostalgia of nursing history. We can adapt because we are critical thinkers who rely on the best most up-to-date evidence to guide our practice. Another reason why it’s so essential that nursing remains a degree educated profession, fostering this level of academic thought.
Nurses should treat all people equally, free from judgement, regardless of any personal views. I believe this to be such an integral quality of a nurse. In practice, when I have seen nurses and other members of the healthcare team exercise judgement, I have found it galling. There is no place for it in healthcare – or in the society, in my opinion.
Through reflective practice, we improve not only our practice, but we improve healthcare as a whole and the patient’s experience of their care. Of course, we will make mistakes – it is inevitable, we are human. However, it is how we reflect upon these instances and develop from them that speaks more about us as nurses and as a profession.
I look forward to your thoughts and to reading your words describing a nurse.
I have mentioned her in my blog several times, especially in “when did I decide to become a nurse” and “which nurses inspire me”. So, if you’ve been following me or have read those posts, you will know that my mum is a nurse – Staff Nurse Carole Davidson. She had to take early medical retirement due to her fibromyalgia and misses her job terribly. She does still manage to do some nursing bank shifts; she can’t be kept away. That level of passion for nursing is one of the reasons I find her such an inspiration.
Also, not strictly my family, but my partner’s gran was a nurse. She is 90 this year and began her training aged 19 in 1947, one year before the formation of the National Health Service. I love listening to the stories of her training and time as a nurse.
However, today, I want to focus on a special member of my family, who although not a nurse, has a job every bit as essential to patient care, and helps make the nurse’s job possible – my dad, Adam Davidson, who is a Healthcare Support Worker.
My dad trained as a welder and worked in engineering for many years. However, when he was made redundant, aged 58, he chose to change career completely, becoming a Healthcare Support Worker at Erskine care home for veterans. I admire him immensely for this and am so proud. My dad has such an effervescent personality and kind heart, and I know that the veterans and their families will love him for that. And I do not doubt that he goes above and beyond for them.
Student nurses and nurses must never forget to value the vital work healthcare support workers do. They often get the opportunity to know patients much better than we can, and are the first to notice when something is wrong. I have learnt so much from them on placement, and thank all the healthcare support workers who have taken the time to help with my nursing education.
So, I am immensely proud to have a nurse for a mum and a healthcare support worker for a dad.
I feel like I have told you everything about myself during this 30-day blog challenge, so I’m not sure what else there is to tell you.
So far, you know I trained in Musical Theatre – so I can sing, dance and act. Though, that does seem like another lifetime ago now. You know I was a gymnast, and can still do a backflip. However, at 33, I get more petrified each time I do one that this is the time I will break my neck. So maybe that won’t be happening for much longer.
So what is my hidden talent? Damn me being so out there on social media and having no sense of enigma. What talent do I possess that you don’t know about? My talent for napping? I’m the napping king of the world, and can literally fall asleep anytime, anywhere? No, that is a very boring talent.
Ok, I’m not sure this is a talent, and I am slightly embarrassed to even admit it, but I can do… the “Floss”. Why and how did I learn this obviously essential and completely useful skill, I hear you ask. Well, Patrick’s nephew could do it – he’s nine – and I was jealous. Yes, I was jealous of a nine-year-old. And what? So, I went home and watched a YouTube video, where a tweenage, American girl taught me how to “Floss” – in my kitchen. While people walked passed the window. I kid you not.
So if you see me out and about ask me to shake my hips and show you the “Floss”. I can teach you too if you like. Don’t lie – I know you want to.
Well, today is the day where I am going to sound extremely critical of our profession, but it is what the question entails. And we are encouraged to be critical thinkers to improve services. However, I am aware that I am still studying and only at the very beginning of my career with lots to learn. So, I in no way think that I have all the answers. Anyway, here goes. I have addressed several of my nursing pet peeves in previous blog posts:
- Poor patient care due to understaffing or poor communication and interpersonal skills.
- Patient choice being neglected in favour of ease for healthcare practitioners – particularly concerning end-of-life care.
- Insufficient understanding and delivery of palliative care.
- Lack of emotional and psychological support for nursing students and nurses.
- The failure of the government to secure bespoke funding for nursing students. In Scotland, the bursary is not enough. Elsewhere in the country, the student loan system, where students are getting in massive amounts of debt to become nurses, certainly isn’t working.
- Incorrectly measured and documented observations endangering patient safety and health outcomes.
- Lack of respect for nursing as a degree educated profession, which applies to both fellow nurses and society in general.
- A nursing workforce that is not representative of the communities we serve.
- Nurses being resistant to or unwilling to adapt and change.
- The varied roles of the modern nursing not being understood.
- Nurses who are not politically active or using their voices to affect real change and champion the profession – you can’t complain if you aren’t doing anything about it.
- Nursing history being viewed with rose-tinted glasses. It is time to look forward.
- The lack of education around nursing history at universities. How can we improve the future without understanding and improving upon the past
However, there are a couple of nursing pet peeves that I haven’t previously discussed.
Firstly, the reticence of certain individuals and institutions to encourage and support younger, newly qualified and student nurses in leadership roles. Sometimes the best leaders are not those with the most experience. In fact, having a fresh pair of eyes, different perspective or new vision – whatever you call it – and being on the shop floor, working directly with patients day-in-day-out, can be what makes them the best people to advocate for patients and nurses and to champion the profession.
Lastly, as a student nurse, one of my biggest pet peeves is being called “the student”. Luckily, this doesn’t happen very often, and when it does, I jokingly say: “my name is Craig”. But it is just rude. Don’t do it. Respect is a two-way street, and students are people too. We are the future of the profession after all.
Sorry about the rant – I promise that tomorrow I’ll be back to my usual chipper self. Would love to hear if you agree or disagree with my nursing pet peeves and any additional ones you have.
I follow nearly 1,960 people on Twitter, so how am I supposed to pick just 10? They are all amazing, and I follow each for very different reasons. I love Twitter (perhaps too much at times – I am a bit of a social media addict) and think it’s a great platform to engage with people from all around the world. The accounts I follow are not all nursing based – I do enjoy having a life outside of nursing – but for this post, these ten accounts are from the nursing world.
Putting myself forward for the RCN UK Students’ Committee was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The committee is made up of representative student nurses from all across the UK. Follow to engage with the work we are doing. Also, why not put yourself up for our upcoming vacant seats? Or become a Student Information Officer (SiO)? SiOs report directly to their country/regions committee member to affect the change they want to see local to them.
The Student Nurse Project is a remarkable group of people, and you should also follow all of their individual Twitter accounts. They provide a peer support network, and a safe space to reflect, engage and debate about issues relating to student and newly qualified nurses.
Like the Student Nurse Project, WeStudentNurses provide a network for nursing students and frequently hold tweetchats. Again, the individual curators of this network are well worth a follow too.
As I’ve mentioned before Charlotte is the Louise to my Thelma. You should give her a follow. Charlotte is an inspiring nurse, and her passion for the profession resonates from her. She also created this blog challenge. So you have her to blame for me becoming a blogger!
I was lucky enough to meet Fiona at RCN Congress this year. She was lovely, and it was great to meet her in person. I think it’s important that we follow and engage with the Chief Nursing Officers in our countries. Fiona has been gracious enough to participate in a few online discussions with me. It’s great that she takes the time to engage with student nurses.
Alison is a brilliant person to follow on Twitter. Her tweets are always insightful, and she engages and debates with passion and vigour backed up by substantial evidence. She is also a champion of patient safety.
Stuart is a proper inspiration to this wee ‘Weegie (Glaswegian) boy. He was Chair of the RCN Congress when I attended for the first time this year. Stuart ran the show with professionalism, kindness, fairness and authority. You really should give him a follow. He is a great guy.
Stu has provided me with much support and encouragement throughout the last year. He sits on the RCN Agenda Committee, and he gave me the confidence to get up and speak this year. Stu formerly was the Chair of the RCN UK Students’ Committee and the student member of the RCN Council. He is a big inspiration, particularly the work he does for the LGBT+ community, promoting diversity and inclusion.
Like Stu, Paul was the Chair of the RCN UK Students’ Committee and the student member of the RCN Council. I find Paul’s tweets interesting and have engaged with him frequently online, particularly around the subject of global nursing. I agree that we should all consider ourselves part of a global family of nursing who all share and learn from best practice to provide optimal care for patients.
I first met Stephen this year at RCN Congress. Alongside David Ferran, Stephen led the agenda item on the resolution of men into nursing. He is a great guy, and in addition to his tweets on nursing, I find his environmental activism inspiring.
I thoroughly suggest you follow all these brilliant nurses and nursing accounts on Twitter. Their presence on the platform makes it a better place.
Well, it goes without saying as I have mentioned her considerably throughout this 30-day challenge; my biggest nursing inspiration is my mum, Staff Nurse Carole Davidson. She inspires me, not only because she is an incredibly compassionate, dedicated nurse, who goes above and beyond for her patients and their families – you should see the gorgeous things she has crocheted for all the babies on the ward at Christmas and Easter. No, what inspires me most is that she has done all this while being the emotional, selfless lynchpin of our family; always putting others before herself.
Other than my mum, there are some other inspiring nurses I have also discovered.
While I have nothing but respect for nursing legends like Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole, during “Men into Nursing” debates, I often discussed the lack of nursing role models who were men. I think it could help attract men into the profession if they had someone to relate to directly and aspire to be – to show nursing is a wonderfully diverse career for all.
Professor June Girvin, who I have mentioned in a previous blog post, and Dr Elaine Maxwell kindly directed towards a plethora of hugely inspiring men. Here are my top three: two for their significant achievements in oncology, my field of interest, and one for his political activism with the RCN. If I could emulate even a small fraction of their work throughout my nursing career, I would feel immensely proud.
Cheeky, I know, and never do this for an essay, but as I am currently on holiday, I am going to copy-and-paste their biographies from Wikipedia.
Robert “Bob” Tiffany:
Robert Tiffany OBE, Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing (30 December 1942 – February 1993), was a British nurse and Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing. He was a founding member of the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care (ISNCC) and initiated the Biannual International Cancer Nursing Conference. He was also a founding member of the European Oncology Nursing Society and first President of the Society from 1985 to 1987. An oncology nurse at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, later promoted to Director of Nursing, Tiffany worked to identify misconceptions regarding cancer, as well as cancer prevention, early detection, and improving the lives of those stricken with the disease. The Tiffany Lectureship was founded to inform and inspire oncology nurses worldwide.
Richard J. Wells:
Malcolm William James Richard Wells, CBE FRCN (19 June 1941 – 6 January 1993), commonly known as Richard J. Wells, was a British nurse, nursing adviser and health care administrator.
Wells was born in South Africa during the Second World War. His career in nursing was largely based at the Royal Marsden Hospital, where he held various positions, including Director of the Marie Curie Rehabilitation Centre.
He served as a consultant to a host of organisations, including the World Health Organization, the International Union Against Cancer, the International Council of Nurses and the European Oncology Society.
As Oncology Nursing Adviser at the Royal College of Nursing, Wells helped shape the nursing response to HIV infection and AIDS in the UK.
Wells died in London in 1993. The Richard Wells Research Centre at West London University is named in his honour.
Trevor Clay, CBE, FRCN (10 May 1936 in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England – 23 April 1994 in Harefield, Middlesex, England) was a British nurse and former General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing.
Clay began his nursing career in 1957, but it was as General Secretary of the RCN, beginning in 1982, that he became a public trade union official and negotiator. He had been Deputy Secretary since 1979 but was not a public figure.
In 1982, almost at the outset of his tenure, he began negotiations with the UK government over a labour disagreement concerning nurses’ salaries, then at yearly levels of no more than £5,833. As a result, a “Pay Review Body” characterised by autonomous operation was created; the compensation of the nurses he represented was also increased.
Clay was diagnosed with severe emphysema at the age of 37. With a membership in excess of 285,000 at the time of Clay’s pensioning off due to illness in September 1989, no labour organisation unaffiliated with the Trades Union Congress surpassed the RCN in size, and none had a greater rate of expansion. Clay’s respiratory disease claimed his life, aged 57, in 1994.
I am sure you will agree, some pretty inspirational nurses. I urge any man in nursing, who, like myself, have complained that there is a lack of male role models in nursing – do your research. Though I would like to see more nursing history taught at universities – we know Florence and Mary were great, but so were many others. And some of them even happened to be men.
For next year’s International Nurses Day, I would love to see inspirational nurses of all genders, ethnic and cultural backgrounds celebrated. That way we can showcase the wonderful inclusivity of our profession.
As a student nurse, we are constantly on placements in different settings. And things change significantly from one setting to the next: an acute ward, an outpatients department, a community setting. So, here are five things I always do on every shift regardless of setting.
- Introduce myself: You would think this was a given, but I have been genuinely surprised that some people do not do this. Patients deserve the common courtesy of knowing our names. We know theirs, and if we fail to introduce ourselves, it only serves to amplify the potential power imbalance in the relationship. Patients are already in a vulnerable place, why on earth would we not take the two extra seconds it takes for a proper introduction? There is no excuse. The work the late Kate Granger did in launching the #HelloMyNameIs campaign has helped address this issue on a national and global level.
- Gain consent: I always gain consent, either written, verbal or implied, for whatever task I am about to undertake. It is essential we do this. Patients should be treated with dignity and respect, and nursing must be person-centred and focussed on patient choice. Consent must be informed, and they must be given the option to refuse treatment, as is expressly stated in the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Code (2015), which all nurses must abide by. As a nursing student who happens to be a man (note – not a “male nursing student”), I feel as though I am hyper-vigilant about gaining consent, particularly when performing intimate tasks on female patients. There was a recent debate on social media in which some nurses believed patients should not be given a choice to refuse a nurse based on gender. I vehemently disagree. Of course they should. A patient has every right to refuse care, or ask for a different nurse of the same sex. It is ludicrous that a nurse should take offence at this. I would never for a minute consider carrying out an intimate procedure – or any procedure – on a patient without first asking if they minded, and then explaining exactly what I was going to be doing. This is why I truly believe we must recruit more men into nursing so that we can offer male patients the same choice as women. With 11% of nurses being men, and often none on a shift, this is often an impossibility.
- Ask questions: If I don’t know the answer or understand something properly, I will always ask questions; whether of my mentor or other members of the multidisciplinary team. I have never had someone shoot me down for this – and if they had then frankly, they are in the wrong job. There have been occasional times where they have not known the answer themselves, and this has then proved to be a learning opportunity for us both. It is, however, always important to ask questions at appropriate times, and this is where my trusty, surgically-attached notebook comes in handy. Asking questions encourages critical thinking, so this is something I will never lose as I progress through my studies and career.
- Accurately measure and document observations: It is so important that observations are measured and documented accurately. An altered respiration rate is the first indication of deterioration, and universities teach that it should be counted for a full minute. A medic friend of mine suggests that there is often not the time for this; that although a full minute is ideal 30 seconds should suffice unless the patient’s breathing is erratic. But still, how many people measure for even that long? Evidence suggests that respiration rate is the most commonly overlooked observation. Likewise, a pulse oximeter will tell you the pulse rate, but it will not measure rhythm or amplitude. It cannot replace an accurate manual pulse reading. These are only a couple of examples. Others include people failing to accurately assess skin condition when carrying out positional turns, or documenting fluid balance. We shouldn’t be taking shortcuts. Yes, a lot of this is due to understaffing and an increased workload. But in the end, it will only harm patients.
- Drink plenty of water: Dehydration not only affects us physically, but it also affects us cognitively, which is the last thing we as nurses need when administering medication and such the like. I always carry a water bottle and make sure I am keeping hydrated throughout the day. We are always prompting patients to drink plenty of fluids. So, we should practice what we preach. Also, if patients see their nurses keeping hydrated, perhaps it will encourage them to follow suit.
So that’s the five things I do on every shift, regardless of setting. None of them groundbreaking but all of them important.
I know it may seem cliché, but I am unapologetically so. My favourite thing about being a nurse is 100%, without a doubt, the patients. It is a privilege to be a nurse, to be there for someone when they are at their most vulnerable. I love getting to know people, to find out their stories. When I am able to comfort them or allay their worries, I feel as though I have done a good job. This is why I think excellent communication and interpersonal skills are essential.
We need to use these skills to develop and maintain strong therapeutic relationships built on mutual respect and trust. I genuinely enjoy doing this. Maybe it’s because I’m a chatterbox who loves a good chinwag. Maybe it’s because I was an actor for years and in companies we had to build trusting relationships quickly. Or maybe it’s because I find it fascinating to learn more about their lives, their hopes, their romantic pasts (those stories are always my favourite – I blame Disney). Whatever the reason, getting to know the patients I am looking after is my favourite part of the day.
Truly knowing our patients facilitates optimal care delivery. Because how can we properly identify deterioration if we don’t really know them? Yes, observations and algorithms may give us a medical indication, but what if they don’t? On paper things may appear fine, and if we don’t know them then we may just accept this. However, if we genuinely know “Anne”, then we know that something isn’t right. She isn’t just tired; she may be depressed, she may have hypoactive delirium. If we don’t know her and this goes unnoticed we are failing her. We are ineffective nurses who are compromising patient safety and outcomes.
It is for this very reason I am so troubled by the nursing staffing crisis in the NHS, and the failure to recruit and retain nurses. The real losers in this situation are our patients – the reason I love nursing. Nurses are so stretched that often they simply cannot spend the time they would like to getting to know their patients. And things get missed – I’ve seen it happen, as I’m sure most of you have.
As a student nurse, we are supposed to be supernumerary. However, this status often goes when wards are short staffed and we become an extra pair of hands. But, when we do get to retain it, I love the opportunity it gives me to get to know patients better. I don’t want to lose this ability when I become a staff nurse.
People have mentioned to me that they can see me progress into management or education roles in the future, which of course is extremely flattering, and a confidence boost. They certainly have more faith in me than I do. However, I worry that this would take me away from direct contact with patients. They are the reason I got into nursing and why I enjoy it so much. For this reason, I would much rather become a clinical nurse specialist or advanced nurse practitioner in time so that I still provide face-to-face patient care on a daily basis.
After all, without patients, there would be no need for nurses.
Now, for a change, this one is easy. There are lots of things that make me happy, in fact, I could write a list as long as my arm, but top six – easy peasy!
I am extremely close to my family: my mum, Carole, dad, Adam, and siblings, Kevin and Jennifer. They were a major contributing factor behind me moving back to Scotland, because I missed them so much.
They have always been there for me, particularly when I went through an extremely dark period before moving home. During that time, my mum saved my life; I owe her everything. And I am eternally grateful to all of them for their unwavering support and unconditional love. I can truly be myself with them, warts and all.
I was so worried about coming out to them as gay because their opinion matters so much to me. This worry led to much inner self-loathing, and internalised homophobia – toxic, as I essentially hated myself for the way I was born. I didn’t want things to change. I didn’t want them to view or treat me differently.
I have been so lucky with the way things have turned out. They were terrific, and they are truly the most supportive, lovely people you could ever hope to meet. All that has changed is I can now be my most authentic self around them. I wish I’d never put myself through the years of torment it took for me to be brave enough to admit it to them. The thing was I had to accept it and admit it to myself first. I want to assure you – it does get better.
The only issue I had initially was with my dad, but I blame that on the fact when a person has to “come out”, parents are then forced to view their child as someone who has a sexual identity. No parent wants to do that, which is why I hate the fact we have to “come out” at all. Straight people don’t have to do that. But, over time things changed, and my dad and I now have a better relationship than ever. I am so proud of him – and he is the loudest cheerleader I have, always fighting in my corner.
So, I love my family, and they are my favourite people in the world. My only complaint: I wish my siblings and their partners would hurry up and have kids so I can be fun Guncle Craig.
It was Kevin’s 30th birthday recently. To mark the occasion we decided to recreate some old family photos. Hope you enjoy. It was such a laugh, and I would highly recommend it.
My partner, Patrick:
Fate was smiling on me the day I met Patrick for a coffee. One of the many things I love about him is that he is very intelligent and challenges me. We may have different views on some things, and our friends may laugh at our political debates – I’m sure he thinks I am some crazy far-left liberal. But, he forces me to expand my mind, and challenge what I believe.
We are very different; I wear my heart on my sleeve and am an open book, Patrick is much more reserved and considered. But that is why we work. We compliment each other. Two of me definitely wouldn’t work in a relationship. I don’t think two of him would work either.
I am not always the easiest person: I expect a lot, can get easily stressed in my personal life (though not in my professional life for some reason), and I guess you could say I’m a little high maintenance. However, Patrick always tries his best to help me through these times, even if I don’t always seem to appreciate it at the time, and I love him for that.
It cannot be easy to be in a relationship with a student, and he supports me so much. I cannot wait until I qualify so that I can contribute more financially to our relationship and I can pay to put in our dream kitchen to our new flat.
I am aware I’ve made myself sound like a terrible boyfriend. But I hope Patrick would disagree.
I love spending time with my friends, and I could sit here and list them all. However, I have chosen two of the most special people to me: Lisa and Rachel.
This is my best friend Lisa and me at her wedding earlier this year. I was honoured to be asked to do a reading and fought back the tears throughout. Because Lisa isn’t just a friend, she is a second sister. She was one of the only people, other than my family, that was there for me during one of the worst moments of my life. And more importantly, she was there for my mum. I can never thank her enough for that. But she did it without question, that is who Lisa is.
She still lives in London, where she works as an incredibly successful actress – we went to stage school together in Glasgow, and then trained together in London – so I don’t get to see her as much as I would like. However, when we do see each other, it is like we have never been apart. That is friendship.
This is Rachel and me at Glasgow Pride where we marched together with the RCN. Again, like with Patrick, fate was smiling on me the day Rachel and I sat together, purely by chance, on our first day in class in our second year. We have since become inseparable at university.
We both articulated into the second year, but from different colleges. I am in awe of Rachel because she is completing her nursing degree while bringing up two amazing little girls, who marched at Pride alongside us. She has become a confidante and a true friend. I continuously overthink everything and am a notorious people pleaser. Rachel helps me get out of my head. I am so grateful that she came into my life and we have such a giggle together, which helps us get through the stresses of a nursing degree. We also both have a shared love of “Queer Eye”.
I love animals! Like I have mentioned, I have a tendency to get stressed, and there is something about stroking a pet, and the unconditional love they give that makes that all melt away. I have two cats, Clara-Rose and Captain Jack (named for Harkness, not Sparrow). Can you see the Doctor Who connection? I may be a fan. They now live with their Granny and Grampa – my mum and dad – because they wouldn’t be able to go outside at our house due to the main road. But I still see them for cuddles all the time, and they love living there.
The other pictures are of my brother and his wife’s Labradors, Baba and Manu, and Patrick’s dad’s dog, Honey. I love them and get lots of attention when I go and visit them. Though “no kissing faces!”
I don’t think I’m unique in that I love holidays and the sunshine. But I do! In fact, I’m currently on holiday now. I started this blog post on the plane out to Gran Canaria and am now finishing it by the poolside.
The sun makes me so happy. As a Scotsman, I feel I definitely may have been born in the wrong country. I also love visiting new places, and there are so many I want to see. One of my only regrets is that I never took a gap year out to see the world. But, I am sure there will be opportunities to visit some of the places on my bucket list.
The pictures below are of mine and Patrick’s first holiday together last year with his family to Ibiza. We had such a great time.
Last, but certainly not least, I love Harry Potter, and I am a Hufflepuff through and through.
I remember picking up the first book at a school book fair before the hype had really blown up around it, and I was hooked straight away. I grew up reading the ‘Worst Witch’ books, and there was something slightly reminiscent of those, but it was so much better.
I was 11 when the first book came out, so if J.K Rowling had continued to write one each year, I would have been the same age as Harry throughout the series. I will forgive her; they did get considerably longer.
I still listen to the audiobooks to this day, as I can’t fall asleep without having white noise in the background. I honestly never tire of the stories.
Below are some photos of my colleagues and me from Glasgow Caledonian University. We went out on an educational exchange placement to California State University, Long Beach. While we were there, we went to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. Oh my goodness, I had the time of my life. I even got selected by Ollivander’s assistant to have my wand pick me. Yes, the wand chooses the wizard. I now have a willow wand with a core of dragon heartstring. Yes, I am sure they just selected the grown adult in the “Hufflepuff Quidditch Team Captain” t-shirt because they knew I would be an easy wand sale, but don’t spoil my fun.
Again, this has been more of a confessional than I originally intended. But, I guess this is what the 30-day blog challenge is doing to me, and it feels good to share. I hope you enjoyed and got something out of it.
I know this is becoming somewhat of a recurring theme, but again I am finding it so hard to pick a favourite nursing topic as I genuinely enjoy them all.
At Glasgow Caledonian University, where I am currently a student nurse, our academic year is built around five modules, on top of our placements, which develop each year as we progress through our studies. These are values-based nursing practice, evidence-based practice, interprofessional practice, professional skills for practice (which includes physiology, pathophysiology and pharmacology), and our specific nursing module that relates to our field, which in my case is adult nursing.
My favourite subject this year was our adult nursing module, Anticipatory and Alternative Approaches to Adult Nursing. This module was built around case studies of patients living with the chronic conditions of COPD, heart failure and diabetes. We discussed the role of the nurse when caring for a patient throughout their illness trajectory, which included exploring strategies to support them in their homes, early interventions, and better access to safe and effective alternatives to avoid unnecessary hospital admission. We also identified appropriate responses to crises, deterioration in condition, and end-of-life care.
The reason I enjoyed this module so much was it encompassed elements of all our other modules, bringing them together in a such a way that we could utilise our critical thinking skills. It required us to fully understand the pathophysiology of each condition in addition to the pharmacology behind its treatment. We also had to identify the best, most up-to-date evidence, the role of the rest of the interprofessional team, and how we could use our values-based nursing skills to educate patients and navigate difficult conversations. I am looking forward to the next stage of our nursing module in my third year, Adult Nursing to Empower, Enhance and Enable Person Centred Care.
Palliative & End-of-Life Care
Throughout my studies, I have developed a keen interest in palliative and end-of-life care, which this year’s nursing module, alongside my experiences on placement, has only served to intensify. From my experience, not enough is known about effective palliative care, and some nurses often refer to specialists for fear of not understanding how to manage long-term conditions best. I believe it is vital that nurses can distinguish between palliative and end-of-life care, as often the two are confused. End-of-life care is an element of palliative care, but it is not all palliative care encompasses.
The Palliative Care (Scotland) Bill (2010) defines palliative care as “treatment which controls and relieves pain, discomfort or other symptoms caused by or related to a life-limiting condition with the intention of improving quality of life”. The Scottish Government (2015) adds that “palliative care is not just about care in the last days and hour of life, but about ensuring the quality of life for both the person and their family at every stage of the life-limiting disease process from diagnosis onwards”. No one should have to live in pain or symptomatic discomfort, and as nurses, we should always strive to improve or at least maintain the quality of life, which is why quality palliative care is so critical and is an area I have become interested in.
Dignified, respectful end-of-life care, which respects the wishes of the person and their loved ones is also essential. Death is an eventuality for all of us, and we should all be able to live out our last days and hours as we choose. Wherever possible we should be respecting the patient’s preferred location to receive end-of-life care and should have an anticipatory care plan put in place for when deterioration occurs.
So that’s been my favourite nursing subject this year, and my developing professional interest. I look forward to reading about your favourite nursing topics.
Well, I love a cheeky selfie, but the photo I have chosen for today’s post is not one – although the selfie of my rainbow glitter beard from last weekend’s Pride Glasgow march I took part in with RCN Greater Glasgow Branch comes a very close second. Instead, I have chosen the below.
This was me speaking at my first ever RCN Congress this May in Belfast. I was a first-time speaker at Congress; and although I may have been an actor for years, it is still petrifying to get up and speak as yourself, not hiding behind a character. Particularly so when it is about a subject you are passionate about, and in this case, the resolution about developing and promoting a strategy to recruit more men into nursing is one that is very dear to my heart. After all, it is one of the main reasons I put myself forward for the RCN UK Students’ Committee – I want to use my passion for this topic to affect real change. Sadly, Congress voted against the resolution, but I believe we got our voices heard and Council will take notice of what we had to say. I am already working with RCN Scotland on ways we can promote nursing as an inclusive profession for all, and I will be speaking at their event in August this year, which you can book at the link below:
28 Aug 2018 16:00 – 18:00
Room CEE2 Centre for Executive Education, Glasgow Caledonian University, Cowcaddens Road, Glasgow, G4 0BA.
Based on me speaking at Congress, I was also asked to write a thinkpiece for Alliance Scotland:
Nursing is one of the most important professions in the world. Everyone at some point in their lives, whether directly or through a loved one, will come in contact with a nurse. It takes a very particular kind of person to be a nurse; they don’t do it for the fame, they certainly don’t do it for the fortune, it is something inherent within them. I was inspired to get into nursing by a very special and inspirational nurse: my mum, who has dedicated her entire working life to her patients and their families. I am proud to be a student nurse, and I cannot wait to be a nurse; but, I do not consider myself a male student nurse. I will not be a male nurse. However, I am passionate about getting more men into nursing. The right men: men who have the necessary values to be a nurse. The reason: I believe the nursing workforce must be as diverse as the communities we serve. At the moment, it is not. I want to promote nursing as a wonderful, rewarding career for all, and I want to encourage men into nursing who may not know it is a viable career option for them.
Eleven per cent of nurses are male, and this figure has been largely unchanged since the 1980s. However, the idea of a campaign to recruit men into nursing has raised some serious debate. Undeniably, there is a serious disparity of men at senior management and professoriate level in nursing; this is an issue that must be addressed. We need to establish why this is happening. That being said, the proposed campaign to recruit men into nursing is concerned with the number of men working at grassroots Band 5 level: the nurses who interact with patients and their families on a day-to-day basis. So, I believe it is essential we do not conflate these two issues. We won’t solve one problem by ignoring another. We need to diversify the nursing workforce, and we need to do it now.
How do we do this? Personally, I don’t believe we should be giving scholarships or grants to attract men into nursing. Women – remarkable women – have paved the way in our profession for years. This is something we should be immensely proud of and celebrate. It would be a disservice to these women, and all women, to positively discriminate men in this way. I think we can solve the issue of the disparity at senior level and attract more men into nursing in the same way.
Nursing needs a serious image overhaul. We need to educate the public about what it means to be a nurse, what it is we do. Too often we still hear that nursing is “women’s work” or that if you are clever, you should push yourself into a career more difficult than nursing. I am so offended when I hear the latter; I had the grades to be a doctor, I chose to be a nurse. Nursing is a degree educated profession with many diverse career options. We need to showcase this and celebrate nursing as a career for all. The problem, I believe, is society’s view of women and “women’s work”. How do we change that?
We should be educating children from primary school age. We have generations of societal views to change, and this is where opinions are formed. We need to have nurses and student nurses from all backgrounds and genders going into primary and secondary schools. Have them meet modern nurses. That way we will hopefully encourage not only more young boys but more young girls into nursing.
I sit on the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Students’ Committee, and because of this, my picture was in the Students’ Magazine. My friend, a fellow student nurse, text me to say that her daughter had been so impressed, she had taken the magazine into show-and-tell at school – she’s seven. When my friend asked her what she had told the class, she said: “this is mummy’s friend… he’s a boy nurse because that’s fine.” Out of the mouth of babes. A campaign like this really could make a difference.
I know that I am a cisgender, white male; that with that comes privilege, and I am far from disadvantaged in society. I can’t change who I am, but I can help to diversify the nursing workforce to reflect the communities we serve. I would encourage you all to as well.
I have always been a big champion of the student’ voice and am proud of my involvement with the RCN, but attending my first ever Congress was a massive game changer for me. I left feeling empowered. The passion, commitment and activism shown by RCN students in our 50th anniversary year was inspirational. We must build on this momentum. I am certainly going to – join me.
If I am honest, before this 30-day challenge, I didn’t read all that many blogs; certainly not enough to have a ‘top five’. I am an avid user of social media – you can find me on Twitter @CraigDavidson85 – and I follow a lot of inspiring nurses and student nurses on there, which I love. I also read a lot of journal articles. Both of which have allowed me to engage in discussion and debate, widen my learning and honestly reflect on my views on nursing related topics. However, I wasn’t really in the blogosphere so to speak.
That is why I have loved this challenge so much. It has not only inspired me to dig deep, and I would like to believe I have been very open, balanced and transparent in my blogs. The structure of this blog challenge has allowed me to read what others views have been on the same topics, which has been insightful and enlightening. So much so, it almost seems unfair and impossible to pick a ‘top five’, as every single person who dares to blog is not only brave, but their passion speaks volumes, and you have all inspired me to keep writing.
However, five you asked for – so five you shall get. I have included some blogs from people taking part in the challenge, but I have also added a couple of others, which I have found interesting to read. Hope you agree.
Diary of a Newly Qualified Nurse follows the journey of a NQN nurse through the ups and downs of transitioning from student nurse to qualified staff nurse.
This blog is written by my very dear friend Charlotte Hall. We sit together on the RCN UK Students’ Committee where Charlotte is the Chair. She is also the student member of the RCN Council. Charlotte is the Lousie to my Thelma, and I have learnt so much from her. She is an inspiration to all student and newly qualified nurses out there. Her blog and vlogs give a real, honest, funny insight to both her views on nursing and her as a person.
You can follow Charlotte on Twitter: @CharlotteRCN
This is a fantastic blog by Professor June Girvin. June isn’t taking part in this challenge. However, I love reading her blogs. They are so informative and make me want to push myself further with my blogging. She is a truly inspirational nurse who is not afraid to get her point across, which is always backed up with impeccable evidence. Particular favourite blog posts have been her recent post on ‘nostalgia’ her discussion on ‘nursing history’ and her post on ‘disagreeing well’.
You can follow June on Twitter: @ProfJuneG
Information for student and NQ nurses by student and NQ nurses
I cannot compliment this group enough. Again, they are not taking part in the 30-day challenge as a collective; though, a couple of them are individually. Dann Godding being one; I am thoroughly enjoying reading his blog and getting to know both him and his views better – Daniel’s Diary
The work the Student Nurse Project do and the peer-supported community they have provided for student and newly qualified nurses is both inspirational and commendable. I would thoroughly recommend you follow their blog and engage with their online Twitter chats.
You can follow the Student Nurse Project on Twitter: @StNurseProject
The rollercoaster of juggling children while training to be a nurse.
I only met Aimie Morgan this year, but I feel like I have known her so much longer. We were sat together at a Parliamentary event the RCN Students’ Committee held this year for our Student Information Officers (SiOs), and I was immediately drawn to her infectious personality and passion for nursing, but most importantly her love for her family. These exact qualities are what shine through in her blog. She writes an honest account of what it means to her to be a mother of young children, raising a family while completing a nursing degree, and it is well worth a read!
You can follow Aimie on Twitter: @aimielmorgan
Ewout van Sabben again is not taking part in the 30-day challenge; however, I could not leave him out. I think Ewout has been an inspirational student nurse – he has just recently qualified – and I have no doubt that he is going to go on to do great things in the profession. I am particularly in awe of the work he has done regards promoting additional learning disability training for all nurses and the communication tool he is developing. His blog posts are insightful and encouraging, and his warm, caring, fun personality shines throughout them. Both he and Charlotte were two big inspirations of mine to begin blogging and to be so open and honest. So thank you both.
Anyway, I wish I could list you all as I think all your blogs are fantastic, particularly the impassioned blogs of our student nurses. I am confident that the future of the profession is in good hands with us the nurses and leaders of tomorrow.
I wholeheartedly believe that nursing should be a degree educated, graduate-entry level profession – and I would seriously question the rationale behind anyone who opposed this view. There would be no question about doctors, psychologists, pharmacists, radiologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dietitians etc., being educated to degree level; so why nurses?
As the nursing role has evolved, it is inevitable and crucial that nursing education should have too. Nurses must be critical thinkers, who can analyse evidence, enabling them to deliver the best evidence-based, patient-centred care. This ability to critique not only provides optimal patient care and outcomes, but it is also what strengthens their position as advocates and protects patient safety. If nurses are not educated in a manner that encourages and enables them to be critical thinkers, then how can they be doing this? We must always question and challenge the ‘norm’, and the ‘way things have always been done’. However, this is not always popular. There has been a long history of a hierarchical workforce in healthcare and nurses have been expected to follow orders, and do what has been asked of them without question. But, times have changed – and for the better.
The Nursing and Midwifery (NMC) Code states that nurses must: prioritise people, practise effectively, preserve safety, and promote professionalism and trust. How can nurses do this if they are not educated to degree level that teaches them the necessary skills and fosters a questioning mindset? I would also argue that to embody the 6Cs of nursing – care, compassion, courage, communication, commitment and competence – nurses must be able to challenge and be equipped with the knowledge that allows them to do so.
There is a reason that nursing education has changed; it has been a change for the better. Reverting to any form of education that takes nursing students outside of university would be an unwise decision. It would be detrimental to the profession, but most importantly to patients. We must stop looking at the past with rose-tinted glasses; we must embrace the future.
Where do I hope to be in five years time? Honestly, I would like to be in a place that makes me happy, both in my personal and my professional life. My journey, as I am sure has been the same for a lot of you, has been characterised by a lot of highs but also a lot of lows. I wouldn’t change it though, because it has shaped me into who I am today.
Professionally in July 2023, I will be coming up for my fourth anniversary of being a qualified nurse – assuming nothing goes drastically wrong in my third year or career thereafter. I will also be 38, which is scary. By this stage, I hope to be working in oncology and to have found the area I would like to specialise in. My aim by this stage would be to apply for a Band 6 Charge Nurse position, as I would like to gain some management experience. I think I would have a lot to offer a team as I passionately believe in being a strong advocate and leading by example. I would also like to be working on progressing academically. I want to complete a Masters Degree in Advanced Practice, and in five years time, hopefully, I’ll be ready to start that. Also, I hope to have completed or be in the process of completing my nurse prescriber qualification.
I am loving my time on the RCN UK Students’ Committee representing Scotland, and I am excited for the year to come. I know that in five years time I will still be involved with the College in some capacity. How? I’m not sure. I would like to sit on the Scottish Board at some point, so who knows, maybe I’ll be doing that in five years time. We were also talking at Glasgow Pride yesterday about forming an RCN Scotland LGBT+ Committee. I would like to be involved in setting that up and sitting on it. The College has done excellent work in promoting equality and diversity, but we could be doing more. We as a College and as a society must strive always to do better – to be more inclusive, more accepting, more understanding. We as nurses should lead the way, and I aim to be part of that.
I also hope that in five years time we have begun to address the gender imbalance in nursing. 11% of the nursing workforce being men is not good enough. We as a profession should be as diverse as the communities we serve. I hope to have an integral role in helping to shape an inclusive recruitment drive for nursing, based around public education of the modern nursing role, which will hopefully encourage and welcome more men into the profession. I am honoured to be speaking at both RCN Scotland’s “Men in Nursing” conference this summer and at Holyrood’s “Attracting Men into the Caring Professions” event later on in the year. I am sure I will continue to advocate passionately for this cause throughout my career.
Most importantly in five years time in my personal life, I would like to be married – though my partner and I debate about who should propose to who. I would also like to be at the stage where we can start planning a family. It’s not easy for a same-sex couple and it will involve a lengthy process however we do it. But, having my own family is very important to me, and it is something I want. That is why I am working so hard; so that one day I can provide a good life for my family and give them a daddy they can be proud of.
So fingers crossed the Universe is listening and this is where I will be in five years time. Though, I am well aware that life throws curveballs at you. So I am prepared for that.
Undertaking a nursing degree is all-consuming; it is without question physically, emotionally and mentally challenging, which is why self-care and mental health support is so essential. A nursing degree isn’t like a standard degree at university. On top of all our academic work, we must complete 2300 clinical practice hours on placement so that we can join the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register.
Due to this, we do not have the long summers off that other courses do. The majority of student nurses have to work additional hours on top of placements to manage financially. In Scotland, we may still have the NHS funded nursing bursary, which helps; but it is only a token amount, not a sustainable living wage. Also, many nursing students are completing their studies while raising and supporting a family. I take my hat off to these incredible parents. I am in awe and think it is so inspirational for your children to see you working towards a degree; because we all know you are working hard.
Back to self-care: with university, placements, assignments, exams, work, oh, and raising a family, where do people find the time? There are three things I try to do; maybe they will work for you.
Anyone who knows me will tell you how much I love to sleep. My bed is, without a doubt, one of my favourite places in the world. The importance of a good night’s sleep should not be overlooked. Good sleep health helps reduce stress levels, and it allows our brain time to process all we are learning, both in class and on placement – because we are learning a lot. I don’t know about you, but my brain continually feels fried. We should all try and aim to get between 7-9 hours a night to function at our best. I know that can be challenging and may not always be possible, which is where my other favourite comes in – naps! I love a Grampa nap. Most days, when I come in from university or placement, I will have a nap. Then I’ll get up and get on with the work I have to do. Napping helps me to freshen up and resets my factory settings. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to focus. I know finding time for a nap may be difficult, particularly for those with families. However, research done by NASA shows the optimal nap length to be 25 minutes. Can you find 25 minutes?
Family and friends:
Spend time with your loved ones, please. The demands of our course and chosen profession means we can be guilty of neglecting them. I know I am, and this is a public apology to my wonderfully supportive partner and family, who probably wish I focussed a little more energy on them and a little less on my course and other extracurricular pursuits – please know I love and appreciate you so much. Our loved ones are a big reason why we are all doing this, right? To have a better life – for them or with them? I know that I always feel so much better when I switch off from it all and focus my energy on them – and I mean switch off, as in: “Turn of your phone Craig!”. Life is too short. Yes, our studies are important, but so are our loved ones.
I love film and TV. More than anything, I love finding an excellent series on Netflix, Amazon or Sky and just binge-watching away. Recent binges have included: Queer Eye, Ru Paul’s Drag Race, 13 Reasons Why, Damages, The Killing, Homeland, and Stranger Things. Please feel free to suggest some more for me to watch in the comments section below. I love the escapism that comes with getting involved in a good series. If you can’t watch it all in a binge, then find a series you like and ration the episodes. You still get the benefit of forgetting you are a student nurse for 45-60 minutes and becoming an enraptured viewer. To avoid the procrastination guilt, you could even treat yourself to an episode every time you get a piece of work done. Might have to start trying that one myself.
So, there are my three self-care ideas. In no way do I profess to be a self-help guru. I can’t wait to read all of yours. Please leave some ideas in the comments below.
What was my favourite placement? Aw, this is a difficult one; I genuinely cannot pick which my favourite placement has been, because I have loved and learnt lots from them all. There is a running joke between my mum, my partner and I that every time I go to a different placement, I then decide that is where I want to work. I guess there is some element of truth to this, however, as I have advanced throughout my studies, I have developed a real passion for oncology and palliative care. I think it will be tough to sway me from this. For that reason, I guess you could say my favourite placement was my most recent, which was the Outpatients Department of the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre. However, I have loved elements of them all, and I want to share with you all why.
This ward was where I first learned how to put my practical skills into action, and to deliver essential nursing care. Before this, I had no experience of working in a caring environment. I am not going to lie, I was petrified, and it was a baptism of fire. I cannot thank my mentor Louise and all the other staff enough. Their support and encouragement confirmed to me that I could do it – I could be a nurse. I had a 12-week placement here while doing my HNC in Care & Administrative Practice. When I was accepted onto the articulation programme, this ward then became my hub placement, meaning I will return to the ward for three weeks at the end of this summer, and then complete my thirteen-week, sign-off, management placement there at the end of my third year. I became fascinated by wound care on this placement, as well as chronic disease management as the ward cares for many diabetic patients. It is a very busy ward, caring for both surgical and medical patients. I know it will be a challenging ward to complete my management placement on, but I am looking forward to the challenge, and know I will be well supported.
General outpatients department:
This was the first placement I went to after I knew I had been accepted into the second year of the BSc Nursing Studies (Adult) programme at Glasgow Caledonian University. At first, I found it very different working in an outpatients department after working on a busy ward, and I missed being able to follow the patient journey. What it did make me focus on, however, was forming therapeutic relationships with patients quickly, as I didn’t have an extended period of time to get to know them. I also enjoyed getting to sit in on consultations with the different consultants and nurse specialists as the department covered a variety of different specialities within their clinics. My favourite experience was observing the nurse-led minor operations clinic. I was in awe, as the nurse had complete autonomy in her role; it was fascinating to watch her carry out what would have once been a doctor’s role. Very inspiring and emboldening. She also kept me on my toes with her quick-fire questions, which I loved.
Again, I loved this placement. I know, it’s becoming a recurring theme. I find the heart fascinating, and while on this placement, I learnt so much about specialist cardiac drugs and infusion pumps. I am fascinated by pharmacology – one of the reasons I would eventually like to become a nurse prescriber – so I found this really exciting. It was also on this placement that I learned how to carry out ECG readings and telemetry, learning the old pneumonic “Ride Your Green Bike”. Due to a large number of patients being on furosemide, this placement reinforced to me the importance of properly monitoring fluid balance. Something that has remained with me on all subsequent placements, as I feel this is a measurement we do not always document accurately or focus on well enough.
At first, I was worried that I wouldn’t like community nursing; I couldn’t have been more wrong. My mentor, Nancy, played a massive role in this. She was absolutely fantastic: so supportive and encouraging, and by the end of my placement, she was allowing me to make decisions regards wound care and treatment options. For the first time, I really felt like an autonomous nurse, using my critical thinking and evidence-based practice skills. I really cannot thank her enough. I loved district nursing because it combined so many of my interests: wound care, chronic disease management and palliative care. It was definitely on this placement that my passion for palliative care stepped up a gear. I also really liked being able to go into the patient’s homes to deliver their care. I definitely think this is the way nursing and all healthcare provision should be moving. It feels more natural, as patients and their families are more comfortable and less vulnerable in their homes. We should always be striving to make healthcare more person-centred.
Medicine for the Elderly:
This placement really helped me learn how to manage the care of patients with multiple, complex comorbidities. The ward had a lot of patients with advanced dementia and other cognitive impairments. This meant we were managing the care of patients who were at serious risk of falling but were unaware. Also, patients were on a lot of medications, but either didn’t want to or didn’t understand why they had to take them. This was a new challenge and made me really have to work on developing my communication skills. Every day on the wards made me think of my grandparents: how I would like them to be treated should they be in a hospital. I always try to be polite, kind and friendly, but this ward more than ever made me conscious of that.
I was delighted when by chance I got placed in this department. Had I not been, I would definitely have selected oncology for my elective next year. I loved every minute and as I have mentioned in previous blogs, I am certain oncology is where I want to work. I know that some people consider it to be a sad place to work, but I see the hope and the wonderful, resilient people who are dealing with the hand that they have been dealt. When there is no more that can be done, I admire their courage and bravery. I believe I have something to give to patients and their families. To be a nurse is such a great privilege: to be there for someone when they are at their lowest. I want to be the one there to support them through these difficult times.
So, yeah, it’s too difficult to pick my favourite. I’ve loved them all.
Nursing has always been a massive part of my life: my mum trained as a general nurse, then did her paediatric conversion, and laterally trained as a midwife, before becoming a neonatal intensive care nurse, where she worked for over 25 years. She would take my siblings and me up to visit the babies in the hospital, especially at Christmas time. I have very fond memories of those visits to Yorkhill Sick Children’s Hospital in Glasgow, which is sadly no longer there.
I knew from that young age that I wanted to work in healthcare; that I wanted to help sick people get better. At that time, I wanted to go into medicine, to be a doctor. I had a toy doctor’s kit, collected the “How My Body Works” books, which included a human anatomy model you got to build piece-by-piece, and I had an unquenchable thirst for information. I was set on becoming a doctor; it never entered my head to be a nurse. It was never suggested to me – not at school, not by careers advisors, not even by my mum and her nurse colleagues. Why? Worryingly, I think because I was a boy. Nursing wasn’t something to aspire towards. Nursing was a “girl’s job”. Also, if you got good grades at school, which I worked hard to achieve, then you were too “clever” for nursing, and you should push yourself to something harder, where the pay was better. I wish I could say that this has changed since I was in high school, 16 years ago, but I don’t think it has.
Anyway, I got the grades to apply to university to study medicine, but as I have mentioned in previous blogs, I moved to London, aged 18, to pursue a career in acting; quite the career shift, I know. While I don’t regret the time I spent in London, and it has given me many transferable skills, in addition to lots of stories, I missed academia. I missed using my brain, and I felt unfulfilled in my chosen career.
Fast-forward to early 2016, aged 30. I had recently moved back to Glasgow after 12 and a half years in London. What was I going to do with the rest of my life? I spoke to my mum about this at length. I knew I wanted to work in a profession where I could make a difference, but also after years of insecurity in the acting world; I wanted to have a career where there was constant work.
I started volunteering as a nursing assistant at Medicinema, a charity based in the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital complex in Glasgow. It is an in-house cinema, where patients are brought in from the wards to watch the most recent cinema releases. They are taken care of by nurses and nursing assistants who volunteer their time. I loved it. I enjoyed talking to the patients and their families and seeing how happy this experience made them. These patients were in such a vulnerable place in the hospital, and something as simple as coming to the cinema and having a chat with me as I brought them over to the cinema from the wards helped to brighten their day. I discovered my years in acting had allowed me to develop my communication and interpersonal skills. These skills coupled with what I believe is an innate compassionate and empathetic quality I possess, made me think that I could be a nurse. Why not?
I had toyed with the idea of trying to get back into medicine; but the more I volunteered at Medicinema, talked to the nurses, and spent time with the patients, the more I realised I wanted to be a nurse. I believed as a nurse I would be able to have more one-to-one contact with patients where I could get to know them and follow them on their journey. I researched nursing roles more and was interested in the advanced nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist roles. Nursing had evolved so much, and more than ever, there is a wealth of varied career opportunities and progressions. These opportunities excited me. So, I decided to apply to be a nurse.
As my school and university qualifications were out of date, having graduated in 2006, I had to apply for a college course first, to prove I was able to work at the necessary academic level. In August 2016, I began my HNC in Care and Administrative Practice at Glasgow Clyde College. Based on my grades, statement, and interview, I was then successful in gaining a place on a widening access programme, which allowed me to articulate directly into the second year of the BSc Nursing Studies (Adult) course at Glasgow Caledonian University.
So, it’s been a long and winding route for me to get into nursing, and I think I’m a better nurse for it with my extra life experience. The additional life experience that can come with being a mature student is why I think it’s unforgivable that the scrapping of the bursary in England is leading to a decrease in mature nursing students. We have a lot to offer, and it is a loss to the profession. I would also like to hark back to my earlier point: why was I, a young boy passionate about going into healthcare, not encouraged to go into nursing at school? This is a problem, and it is something I passionately believe we need to change and am currently advocating for. I think the nursing workforce should be as diverse as the communities we serve, and that we should be encouraging all who possess the necessary values and academic abilities to become nurses, regardless of gender.
Well, I always try to be as healthy as I can, and I am always on a ‘diet’ – believe me, it gets harder to shift the pounds in your thirties. So, a typical day on the wards on placement would include:
Porridge or cereal (usually Weetabix as it travels well in a Tupperware box) and a huge cup of coffee. Yeah, I know, porridge, how stereotypically Scottish. But I love it, and it provides slow release energy. If I’m feeling naughty, I will add a little bit of Golden Syrup for a sugar hit. I am addicted to caffeine and cannot function without it. So I will always have coffee – bad I know. Depending on how long it is until my next break, as it varies from placement to placement, I may also have a banana.
I’ll usually have pasta (either with chicken and vegetables or tuna pasta) if I’m bringing food in from home. If I’m buying food from the canteen, I will typically have a jacket potato with tuna (yes, I love tuna). On my last placement, I think I had that for lunch four out of every five days. I am a creature of habit. I’ll also have a piece of fruit, a yoghurt, and a pack of low-fat crisps. I tend to eat quite a lot at lunch, as I’ll have a smaller evening meal.
Depending on placement, I may or may not get an evening break. If I do, I’ll typically have a cereal bar or rice cake and another cup of coffee, as I’ll be flagging by then.
We all know nurses are inundated with biscuits and sweeties from patients and their families. I will try and avoid these as much as possible, but I am human, and temptation can often prove very hard to resist!
Also, while on shift I drink lots of water. It is so important to keep hydrated, not just for our physical but for our mental alertness.
What do you all eat? Looking forward to getting some tips to vary up my lunchbox!
When I saw the topic for today’s blog post, I began wracking my brain for a specific joke a patient has told me, but there isn’t one in particular that springs to mind. That doesn’t mean I am a complete straight-laced dullard who doesn’t enjoy engaging in humour with patients; quite the opposite. I love to laugh, and I think humour often helps patients, families, and the nursing staff deal with some truly horrendous, stressful times.
I have witnessed humour used as a tool to help patients deal with the extremely vulnerable position they are in. It seems to give them a sense of power and control. In the west of Scotland, I have observed this, particularly, with a lot of our male patients.
I will never forget the first day of my first ever placement in a vascular surgical ward. Many of the patients were in for below and above the knee amputations. At first, I was a little shocked. I had never seen an amputee in real life before; what would I say, what would I do? I didn’t want to put any potential discomfort I may have, due to my unfamiliarity, ahead of their care, but I didn’t want to make light of the situation either and seem insensitive. I was learning to bandage a stump on a patient before I had learned how to bandage a leg – I didn’t know what to say.
The patient, a lovely guy in his fifties, cracked jokes and was so funny throughout the procedure, which put both me and, I think, him at ease. He wasn’t alone in his humorous approach, and I was amazed by how people found the humour in their situations. It was so uplifting and inspiring. I have seen this replicated in many clinical situations, even at times where I didn’t expect it, like on my placements in oncology and palliative care.
Life throws a lot at us; I’ve seen patients and their families go through things I couldn’t possibly imagine. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I’ve been through some dark times, as I’m sure a lot of you have. Humour is often one of the best ways to get through them and stop us spiralling into the darkness. A smile, a laugh, a bit of “banter”, in fact, I’ve even had little old ladies have a cheeky flirt and try and set me up with their granddaughters (I didn’t have the heart to tell them), which all help to make impossible and often heartbreaking situations seem that little bit brighter and more hopeful. I think this is such an essential part of nursing and helps us to develop our therapeutic relationships.
Humour should be used with sensitivity and is not always appropriate; its therapeutic use is something you learn and develop over time alongside your interpersonal and communication skills. But, when used well, I say, why not, let’s all laugh. Life is too short, and the world is such an angry place. Everyone is happier when they are smiling and laughing: patients, their families and us nurses.
I’m not sure this is going to be a particularly exciting one from me today – nor do I think it the contents of my bag will be atypical to many other nursing students. As I’m peering into it, I am noticing that it is a complete mess. Time for a summer holiday declutter.
So the things that my work bag will always include are:
- My uniform – though no matter how much I iron it, it always seems to end up creased by the time I get there. I would never travel to or from placement in my uniform, and it annoys me when people do. Infection control!
- Work shoes – I wear black Schuh work shoes with memory insoles. Very comfy and back leather wipe down. Handy for any spillages that may occur.
- My name badge – which I wear with pride.
- A pocket watch – for timing observations.
- A pen torch – for neuro obs. Also, extremely handy for writing nursing notes at night.
- A notebook – I am never without my trusty notebook, and I write down everything: important information from the handover; questions to ask later if it’s not appropriate at the time; things I want to research more; reflections etc. A few people on placements have jokingly commented on me and my “notebook”, which is surgically attached to my hand, but I wouldn’t be without it and have found it invaluable.
- Lots of pens and highlighters – can you really ever have enough?
- Deodorant – no one wants a whiffy nurse.
- A spritzing toner from Lush – my skin always seems to get messed up on the wards and a quick skoosh freshens it up.
- My RCN diary – to sort out shifts with mentors and other spoke placements.
- RCN pocket guide – when I first joined as a student member, we were this fantastic little pocket sized book that contains information, advice and guidance on everything from NEWS scores, falls risk assessment, MUST assessment, communication aids, pain scores and much, much more. It is now looking a little sad and battered but has such a useful tool.
- Journal articles – I usually have a couple of articles in my bag based on conditions or treatments that have cropped up during the placement. I have often shared this learning with other members of the team who have found it helpful.
- My lunch and snacks.
- A water bottle with my name on it – very important to keep hydrated at work!
So that’s that. What’s inside my work bag. Not very exciting, it must be said, but very practical.
What do you mean you only want me to pick five? Like I have said in previous blog posts, I am very ambitious and have my life mapped out with what I would like to achieve and when – of course with realistic flexibility. But, five you asked for, so five you shall get.
- I am currently about to enter the third year of my BSc Nursing Studies (Adult) degree at Glasgow Caledonian University. I articulated directly into the second year via a wider access programme. Due to this, I was unable to apply for the Honours programme. However, in the third year, the university allows students to apply for places on the Honours programme that may have become available due to students dropping out or deciding not to continue to Honours level. I hope to apply for one of these places. I won’t be able to until December, and I will need to achieve over 70% in all my assessments up until that point. However, I believe this is more than possible if I keep working hard and continue to replicate my marks from my second year. So, fingers crossed.
- Regardless of whether I get into the Honours programme or continue on the BSc programme, one important goal is to complete my degree so that I can join the NMC register and get my pin. Then I will be a fully qualified nurse! That is exciting.
- I recently interviewed for and was successful in becoming School Officer for the Department of Nursing and Community Health at GCU. During my tenure, I aim to focus on increased mental health support for students within the university. Also, to encourage students, faculty, and the university as a whole to become more engaged in social media. Lastly, I want to work with the university on an inclusive, gender-neutral recruitment drive for nursing students, focussing on education around the role of the modern nurse, which will hopefully encourage more men into nursing.
- I have just returned from an educational exchange trip to California State University, Long Beach. I have been asked to write a couple of different articles about my experiences there, comparing the similarities and differences in nursing education and clinical practice between the two countries. I hope the get these published by the end of the year, as in addition to nursing, I also really enjoy writing.
- Lastly, later on in the year, I am putting my hat in the ring for a position that I am passionate and excited about. Should I be successful, I would be able to affect real change while advocating the student’ voice. Advocacy is so important, particularly in our role as nurses. There have been times in my life where I wish someone had done it for me, and I think I am a more compassionate and empathetic advocate for that reason. The position is elected, so again, fingers crossed.
Hope you’re all having a great weekend. Please, feel free to comment and tell me what your goals are.
Music is an international language that moves and motivates us. We can relate to it: it can be the war-cry rallying us into battle; it can transport us to another time, remembering friends and loved ones; and it can make us connect with our rawest emotions, making us reflect and even bringing us to tears. I guess because I went to stage school from the age of twelve, then trained and worked in musical theatre for over twelve years, music and singing are even more personal to me.
My five most motivating songs are all very important to me. Some are tied into me struggling to come to terms with my sexuality when I was younger, and how I sought solace in their words of advice and encouragement. Also, a couple of them are love songs because I am a hopeless romantic. It is so hard to choose just five!
Oh, Miss Whitney – the best voice there has ever been. This song came out the year I was born: 1985. It resonates with me on so many levels. I had childhood crushes on a couple of boys at school but couldn’t do anything about it. It would hurt when I saw the boys and girls coupling up because I thought I would never have that. So, I would dance around my room with a hairbrush imagining I was Whitney singing this song. Now that I am happy with who I am and very much in love, I can dance around my room with a hairbrush pretending I’m Whitney but with joy rather than unrequited sadness. It does get better.
There’s a boy I know, he’s the one I dream of
Looks into my eyes, takes me to the clouds above
Ooh I lose control, can’t seem to get enough
When I wake from dreaming, tell me is it really love…
How will I know
(Don’t trust your feelings)
How will I know
How will I know
(Love can be deceiving)
How will I know
How will I know if he really loves me
I say a prayer with every heartbeat
I fall in love whenever we meet
I’m asking you ’cause you know about these things
How will I know if he’s thinking of me
I try to phone but I’m too shy (can’t speak)
Falling in love is so bitter sweet
This love is strong why do I feel weak
This song reminds me of my best friend, my mum. When I moved to London aged 18, my flatmate Lisa and I would watch the film ‘Stepmom’ with Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts, featuring this song. The ending would always make me cry and I would phone my mum and tell her how much I loved her. This song for me is about love and loyalty and always being there for one another, which is so important to me.
If you need me, call me
No matter where you are
No matter how far (don’t worry, baby)
Just call my name
I’ll be there in a hurry
You don’t have to worry
Cause baby there
Ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you, babe
My love is alive
Way down in my heart
Although we are miles apart
If you ever need a helping hand
I’ll be there on the double
Just as fast as I can
Don’t you know that there…
Ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you
When the Spice Girls exploded onto the scene in 1996, 11-year-old Craig almost burst with excitement. They were a phenomenon and I am certain they touched the heart of many closeted little gay boy growing up in the 90s. I really, truly identified with their message of embracing who you are and not letting anyone else’s vision for you holding you back.
This song, in particular, I love, because it encourages us to embrace the positivity of life and just dance our hearts out. Spice Girls I love you and thank you for being there at a time I needed you. Baby Spice, you will always be my favourite. Spice up your lives!
When you’re feelin’
Sad and low
We will take you
Where you gotta go
Smilin’ and dancin’
Everything is free
All you need is
Colours of the world
Spice up your life
Every boy and every girl
Spice up your life
People of the world
Spice up your life
Now, this may seem like a bit of a left-field choice, but the song is a banger! It came out at a period in my life where I was in a bad place with my mental health. I truly identify with the lyrics: I am a hard worker, who completely turned my life on its head; going from the worst place I have ever been to where I am now in the space of less than three years. Also, I want everything and I want it now, so it’s pretty appropriate.
Me not working hard?
Yeah, right, picture that with a Kodak
Or, better yet, go to Times Square
Take a picture of me with a Kodak
Took my life from negative to positive
I just want y’all know that
And tonight, let’s enjoy life…
Tonight I want all of you tonight
Give me everything tonight
For all we know we might not get tomorrow
Let’s do it tonight…
I bloody love Ru Paul and everything he stands for. I like this song lyrically for similar reasons to the previous one, particularly the opening line. It also makes reference to paying attention to what your “momma says”, and I run everything by mine. I also am a people pleaser who is constantly worried about what other people think. This song reminds me not to do that so much. Lastly, it’s fabulous and makes me proud to be a gay man and embrace all sides of my personality: I can be camp if I want, I don’t need to police myself, which is refreshing after spending so many years battling internalised homophobia.
Pick myself up, turn the world on its head
Don’t forget what, don’t forget what my mama said
People talking (ish), since the beginning of time
Unless they paying your bills, pay them bitches no mind
And if I fly, or if I fall
Least I can say I gave it all
And if I fly, or if I fall
I’m on my way, I’m on my way
Fly, fly, fly, fly [4x]
Now sissy that walk!
Hope you enjoyed my list. It turned into a bit of a confessional. I included links to all the songs so you can have a boogie.
Now, this is a tricky one; what do I fear in the future of nursing? I would say that I am usually pretty fearless. I always try to be optimistic about the future, and I believe in channelling positivity out into the Universe. However, I guess at my stage of training, where I am about to enter my third year of study, I fear that I am not going to be ready to go out into the world of nursing and be responsible for the care of patients on my own as a staff nurse.
I worry that I’ll never know enough and that could compromise patient care – I want to know everything and I want to know it now! When on placement, if I don’t know something, I will always ask, and then I will find a research article to consolidate my learning. I am an inquisitive perfectionist and always have been – I was one of those precocious children always asking “but why?”, and when I am the nurse, not the student, I know I won’t like not knowing all the answers.
However, this is an irrational fear: I will never be able to learn everything I will need to know over my, hopefully, lengthy nursing career before qualifying, because so much continued learning and development is done on the job once qualifying. Also, nursing continually evolves and changes to reflect best evidence-based practice, as it should. I am sure I am not alone in this fear as a student nurse, but as the clock ticks down towards qualifying it is definitely in the back of my mind, even though I am doing well both academically and on placement.
With regards fear for the future of nursing in general, I guess I am worried that we are unable to sort out the current staffing crisis and continue to struggle to recruit and retain nurses. I have seen in practice, while on placement, nurses having to take shortcuts because they don’t have time, including not counting respiration rate for a full minute, even though altered respirations are one of the first signs of a deteriorating patient. I have seen a nurse forced to take care of 14 patients on a night shift, all of whom were in single rooms, many with advanced dementia, delirium and at a high falls risk, all because there were only two registered nurses on shift. I have seen nurses so stretched that it has affected their mental health and they have gone off with stress. Often this is coined “compassion fatigue”, I would say that it’s exhaustion and unrealistic expectation and pressure.
The staffing crisis affects patient safety and satisfaction; I don’t want to be put under the pressure of having to become one of these nurses. It doesn’t reflect how I have been trained; it’s not who I want to be as a nurse, and I am confident it’s not who these nurses want to be either. We as nurses are supposed to be the advocate for our patients, delivering holistic patient-centred care. When stretched past physical, psychological and emotional capacity, this isn’t always possible, which is why I am grateful for the work the Scottish Government and RCN Scotland are doing regards safe staffing legislation.
Another fear is that we collectively as nurses don’t use our voice to champion our profession. I passionately believe we need to be more politically active. It is not always in the nurses’ nature to be immodest, but it is time we made some noise. We deserve to be paid better for what we do; we deserve societal recognition that nursing is a complex, multi-skilled, degree level profession, which requires constant critical thinking and application of best evidence-based practice to deliver the best patient care. Nursing has evolved, it’s time for society’s views to catch up.
I am so proud to be a student nurse, and I cannot wait to be a nurse, and I hope as I advance through my studies and career these fears are alleviated. If not, I will make my voice heard for the benefit of all patients and nurses.
I am so proud of our National Health Service. Having just returned from an educational exchange trip to the United States, it has only intensified my pride to come from a country that provides free healthcare to all at the point of service. The NHS looks after us all, from conception until the time we die, what an amazing achievement.
As a student nurse in Scotland, I am privileged that the NHS gives me a bursary whilst I am studying to be a nurse – something that the American student nurses I met were in absolute awe of.
I cannot wait to qualify and begin working as a registered nurse within our NHS and I am excited to see what it continues to achieve by the time we are celebrating #NHS100 – though I will be 63, which is terrifying.
We all know that the NHS must continue to evolve to deal with the pressures of an ageing population living with comorbidities and complex care needs. It is currently stretched far beyond what it was originally designed to cope with and there are likely to be some very tough times ahead with resistance to some necessary reforms and changes; however, I believe the NHS will cope with this admirably and it is an institution bolstered by immense national pride.
So happy 70th birthday NHS. “Lang may yer lum reek”
I am ambitious and determined, always have been, always will be. For me, it’s a good thing as it pushes me to be the best version of myself I can be and to continually challenge myself. I also believe in setting goals both personally and professionally as it helps give me focus.
Part of this goal setting is having targets I hope to achieve by set time periods: one year, five year, ten year. To be honest, I have a framework for what I’d like to achieve and where I’d like to be for most of my life. Maybe I’m a control-freak, who knows? However, I am not unrealistic, I am aware that these goals may change; you don’t ever know what life is going to throw at you to take you off that mapped course or what other opportunities may arise. At 33, I am definitely not where I thought I would be personally or professionally. So I know the importance of being adaptable and living in the moment. That being said, I think I will always set goals. They may not work for everyone but they do for me.
Over the course of my nursing education I have developed a keen interest in oncology and palliative care. When I qualify, I would like to get a job in an acute ward setting, ideally at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre where I have recently completed a placement. I would love to then rotate wards for a couple of years to get a feel for which area of oncology I would like to specialise in and to really hone my nursing skills. Following that, I hope to apply for a Band 6 charge nurse position, which would allow me to gain some management experience.
Eventually, I want to become a Clinical Nurse Specialist or Advanced Nurse Practitioner in my chosen field. I am drawn to the autonomy of the role and really want to be a nurse prescriber as I love pharmacology. At present, based on my placement experience, I am really interested in specialising in urology within oncology. One of the reasons behind this is that I believe a number of men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer may benefit from having a nurse specialist who happens to be male. They may find it easier to disclose and discuss some symptoms such as erectile dysfunction. That is not to say that the female nurses I worked with were not amazing in their roles and wonderful with their patients, I just think on a personal level, particularly in the west of Scotland, it may help patients feel as though someone can directly relate to their concerns.
So I guess at the moment my dream job is:
Advanced Nurse Practitioner in Urological Oncology
P.S. I always think it’s good/fun to have a slightly crazy ambitious career goal. For me it is to be Scotland’s Chief Nursing Officer. I am really drawn to the governmental element of this role as I am very interested in politics.
So that’s that. My dream jobs. One realistic, which is part of my 10 year plan, and one for fun.
Do you set goals? Do you think it’s beneficial? Or do you prefer to take life as it comes?
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,
I have decided to take part in NHS Horizons 30 day challenge to transform the perceptions of nursing and midwifery. Today’s challenge: 20 facts about yourself.
I am typically known for wearing my heart on my sleeve and being an open book, so in theory sharing 20 facts about myself should be easy and I’m sure that people who follow or know me will already know most of these – whether or not these facts are interesting is quite another matter. I’ll leave that up to you to decide…
- I am the eldest of three children and have a younger brother and sister, Kevin and Jennifer.
- I am from Glasgow in Scotland. First generation Glaswegian as all my family are from South Ayrshire, specifically a little mining village called Dailly. My mum and dad grew up around the corner from each other and were in the same class at primary school.
- Nothing in the world is more important to me than family. Something that was instilled in me at a very young age from my Grampa Davidson, who is sadly no longer with us, and my parents, Carole and Adam.
- I came into my nursing degree through an alternative route. As my school and degree qualifications were out of date, I went to Glasgow Clyde College where I studied a HNC in Care & Administrative Practice. Whilst on this course, I successfully gained one of 28 places to articulate straight into second year of the BSc Nursing Studies (Adult) course at Glasgow Caledonian University.
- One day I hope to adopt. Ideally I would like to adopt siblings.
- My first ever crush was Prince Eric from the Little Mermaid.
- I used to do gymnastics and sports acrobatics when I was young. I can still do a backflip!
- I am extremely passionate and believe in being a strong advocate. I champion the student, nursing and LGBTQI voice and rights.
- I recently interviewed for and was successful in gaining the position of School Officer for the Department of Nursing and Community Health at Glasgow Caledonian University.
- I was elected to be one of the Scottish representatives on the RCN UK Students’ Committee.
- I am a big Harry Potter fan. My Hogwarts acceptance letter got lost in the post, I tell you! I am a Hufflepuff and would want to be a Healer in St. Mungo’s if I was a wizard.
- When I was younger I wanted to go into medicine and got the required grades, however, I went to stage school at the same time and when my friends started getting into drama school in London I got itchy feet and thought I’d give it a shot and audition. The rest is history.
- I have a BA (Hons) degree in Musical Theatre from Arts Educational Schools, London.
- I used to be very religious and attend Sunday school. I really struggled to come to terms with my sexuality, part of the reason I chose to move to London, and I didn’t understand how my God could have made me wrong. I wouldn’t say I’m religious now but I’m definitely spiritual and believe there is a higher power and a life force connecting us all.
- I lived in London for 12 years from the ages of 18-30.
- My first job out of drama school was in We Will Rock You in the West End. I went on to be in many other musicals including Grease, Our House, Pirates of Penzance, and Gotta Sing Gotta Dance. I also played Aladdin, Peter Pan & Jack in the Beanstalk in Panto. Then I moved into straight theatre doing TV, Films and plays. The last role I played before retiring from acting was Macbeth. I also wrote short and feature films. My short film series “Four:Play” had a West End screening.
- I have experienced mental health difficulties in the past: a major contributing factor in me moving home to Glasgow. Due to this I am a big believer in removing the stigma from mental health, providing mental health support, and compassionate mind training.
- I passionately believe we need to recruit more men into nursing as I believe the nursing workforce should be as diverse as the communities we serve and at present with 11% of nurses in the UK being men it doesn’t.
- One day I would love to take some time out to tour Italy. I want to visit Rome, Verona, Venice, Florence, Lake Garda, Sorrento, and Tuscany. Need to find a pot of gold!
- I love cats and have two Clara-Rose and Captain Jack. Named for Doctor Who characters. Sadly they now live with their granny and grampa, my mum and dad as my other half is allergic to cats.
Well that’s that, my facts… hope I’ve not bored you and now you know a little more about me!
I’ve wanted to keep a blog for quite some time; I have been vlogging recently but the challenge to keep a blog for this month’s 30 day challenge for NHS Horizons ‘transforming the perceptions of nursing and midwifery’ has come as a perfect opportunity to finally put metaphorical paper to pen (it is actually thumb to phone key pad as I am in the back of an Uber, driving back to California State University, Long Beach where I am currently on an exchange placement).
So why the title ‘Craig’s Considerations’? Well, I like the fact it alliterates, however, the word ‘considerations’ is really what I want the blog to focus on. I want to really think about what nursing means to me, what I want to aspire to be professionally, what I admire and perhaps don’t in others, what my hopes are for the future of nursing, and what I hope it is not going to be. The by-line “diary of a Hufflepuff nurse” is pretty self explanatory: I am the biggest Harry Potter fan and would like to think that I am a typical Hufflepuff in that I value hard work, patience, loyalty and fair play.
I have often kept a diary at various points in my life, using it to reflect and straighten out my thoughts when times have been difficult in my personal life. I think this has merit and perhaps this blog will feature some of that, but more than anything else I want it to be an absolute celebration of nursing – because I love being a nursing student and I cannot wait to be a nurse.
Thanks for reading.
Can’t wait to take part in this challenge.