Which nurses inspire me…

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.

A newly qualified Staff Nurse Davidson, aged 21, 1979.
Working in Ward 7B, Yorkhill Sick Children’s Hospital, 1983.
Princess Diana visiting Ward 7B, 1984. Can you spot mum in the background?

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:

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.



What was my favourite placement…

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.

District nursing:

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.