Student Nursing Times Awards 2020 #SNTA

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 okay to celebrate your achievements…

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.

So, thank you Sigma Nursing for the recognition. And long may PodRTP last for as long as you want us.

All our love and appreciation.

Craig and Clare.

Finding your authenticity.

Apologies for what may appear a word dump, but I just had a couple of thoughts in my head I wanted to get out there.

I have been doing a lot of self-reflection recently. Now, I want to avoid this being a navel-gazing post. No one wants or needs that. Navel-gazing is generally associated with being self-absorbed and very “me-me-me”. And I guess the point of this blog post is that this is what I want to avoid.

I do not want to be a self-promoter. And I am acutely aware that I have been guilty of this in the past, I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t. Now, I do not blame social media, and I think it has some outstanding advantages, particularly peer-support, sharing best evidence, and providing a space to vent and reflect with our colleagues. It is also an amazing way of flattening perceived hierarchies.

But social media allows us to create a public persona, a “character”, one that may not be our true authentic self. And I am painfully aware that I’ve been guilty of this in the past. I’m trying to improve. I’m a human being, and I make mistakes.

I don’t know if being an actor from the age of twelve, hiding behind a “character” has had something to do with this. So, I often struggle with who the real me is. Who is Craig? What drives me? And ultimately, what is my authenticity? Also, my acute mental health experience in 2015, where I was admitted as an inpatient following a stress-induced psychotic episode, now makes me view myself through a microscopic lens, overanalysing every single thing I ever say or do. For those who don’t know me in person, I am actually an acutely shy, introverted person and happier in my own company with close friends than in a crowd.

Returning to social media, too often it is used to share our accolades, our successes, our triumphs. I have been guilty of this. I’m not alone in doing so, but I am conscious that I have. Don’t get me wrong, there have been achievements that I have been proud of and worked hard for; some, possibly, I may not have always deserved, however, I am grateful for them anyway. But they do not make me, and they are not my authentic self.

So, that is my new focus, finding my authenticity. I’ve had great discussions this week with three inspirational women, who I hope consider themselves friends, but who most definitely are mentors and real inspirations to me. And they have genuinely helped me with having these frank, honest and difficult conversations about finding my authenticity. I want to give them a shout out because they are amazing. They are my RCN Nurses in Management and Leadership Forum colleagues Sally Bassett and Angela Sealy, and my new mentor for the Sigma Nursing Nightingale challenge Dani Collins. Also, I would be remiss not to mention my people Clare Manley and Jess Sainsbury and my colleagues at RCN Newly Qualified Nurses, who are a constant source of support. I want to thank each and every one of them publicly.

So what is my authenticity? What drives me? I’m not sure I know entirely yet. But what I do know is I believe in a world desperately in need of health equity for all. For our patients and service users, whichever they wish to be known as, to be at the heart of every decision made regarding their care, by working in coproduction with services. For us to achieve better standards for nurses in terms of professional development, pay, terms and conditions. And for us to always strive for equality, diversity and inclusion. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.

I do not want to discourage people from celebrating their successes because we need to celebrate nursing. But these cannot be our sole drivers. From now on in, I am going to try my best to ditch the public-facing, online persona I’ve created for myself. And to be the real me.

I am a work in progress; we all are. That is the nature of humanity and authenticity. I hope you have a fantastic weekend.

All my love Craig 

Coming Out Day

Today is #ComingOutDay. Serendipitous that it comes after #WorldMentalHealthDay.

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

5 top tips in nursing…

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.

Craig

@CraigDavidson85

My proudest moment…

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.

Craig

@CraigDavidson85

5 words that describe a nurse…

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.

ADVOCATE:

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.

COORDINATOR:

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.

ADAPTABLE:

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.

NON-JUDGEMENTAL:

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.

REFLECTIVE:

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.

Craig

@CraigDavidson85

What is my hidden talent…

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.

Craig

@CraigDavidson85

What are my nursing pet peeves…

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.

Craig

@CraigDavidson85

5 things I do on every shift…

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.

Craig

@CraigDavidson85

What 6 things make me happy…

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!

My family:

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.

My friends:

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”.

Animals:

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!”

Holidays:

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.

Harry Potter:

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.

Craig

@CraigDavidson

Where do I hope to be in 5 years time…

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.

Craig

CraigDavidson85

3 self-care ideas…

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.

Sleep:

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.

Binge watch:

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.

Craig

@CraigDavidson85