I don’t remember when I decided that I wanted to be a nurse, but I was pretty young.
As a child
I wasn’t massively into dolls as a child, but they made damn good patients. Why childhood reading often concentrated on stories about illness and recovery. I read stories about nurses, but also ones about being sick. The best ones were written by people who had been sick as children. I bandaged and splinted the dolls limbs and at every opportunity used a younger child as a patient. My brothers soon grew wise, so I had to wait till my parents friends arrived with their offspring. Little girls love to play house (or they did in the late 60’s) and took little persuasion to play hospitals instead.
The careers advisor was happy that I had already decided my career path. One less person to bother with. In the library there was an area devoted to further education and careers information. There I found the addresses of some London hospitals and wrote to 4 or 5.
The first couple of interviews weren’t successful. I hadn’t worked out why I wanted a career in nursing and gave some stupid answers to their questions. But I learned and was accepted at two prestigious hospitals. I was advised to do some work experience over the summer I was 18. Back then (unlike when my son was at secondary school) work experience wasn’t organised at school. So 17 year old me sorted it for myself.
The two week experience on a surgical ward was interesting and a massive eye opener. It was a bit weird as the father of one of my best friends was a patient on the ward, but I sensibly told the staff and managed to stay clear of him. Not put off by this experience, in the autumn of 1980 at 18 years and 2 months I started my nurse training.
Grown up me and nursing
I worked as a clinical nurse for 20 years, in a variety of specialities. I was a district nursing sister (just like my childhood idol Sue Barton) and a specialist nurse in rheumatology. Then I left for the world of management and a 9-5 existence.
Nursing is definitely a grown up job and not for the faint hearted. At 18 I was nursing patients with terminal cancer. A patient suffered a stroke while I was undergoing a practical assessment (not my fault) and in my second year one of my patients burst his femoral arteries in my face.
But nursing has made me the person I am. It has taught me about human kindness. Most people do care and will go above and beyond to help others. But also it has shown me that not everyone is truthful or indeed pleasant. People really will lie to your face and they will stab you in the back (not literally of course).
I got out of nursing because I was tired, fatigued by trying to care in difficult circumstances. I took a break and never went back and know it was the right thing to do.
What would I like to do be paid for now?
Well I would like to find a way to be paid for writing. In a way that does happen now as since leaving my job last year I have had a couple of professional jobs doing that. But I would love to make this blog pay. I’d love to write about something other than healthcare and get paid for it. Time and effort will tell.