I had never thought about a career in nursing, until I was diagnosed with cancer. Having been very ill I spent vast amounts of time in hospital and it made me realise what an incredible thing nurses do.
They are there for you when you need them the most and the high standards of care that they deliver are incredible. I have always worked with children in nurseries but after I was ill I wanted to help children and their families further.
This is why I decided to embark on an access course which led me to university to study child nursing. I chose Anglia Ruskin as when I arrived for an interview, I felt at home immediately. The staff and the students were so welcoming and made me feel as though I already belonged here. The campus in Chelmsford is lovely, there is always things going on and the student support here is fantastic.
The best thing about training to be a nurse is supporting children and their families in situations that no child or parent should ever be in, and supporting them through their darkest hours. Nursing is very challenging, spending 12- or 13-hour shifts in the hospital, whilst going to university and studying for essays or exams is tough. Although, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives, nursing is such a rewarding thing to do and something that I am so passionate about.
Some days are tough, physically tiring but also mentally. Unfortunately not every child will get better and that is a hard thing to come to terms with. The support from the University and other student nurses is fantastic: they are there to help if you need any support and guidance. In practice, when a major trauma happens or a child dies there is a debrief where you have a chance to talk things through and ask questions, which is very helpful.
Prior to my nursing degree I didn’t realise the knowledge base that nurses have; the theory that underpins everything that they do in practice is incredible. Nurses in practice not only care for the child, but they support the families that are going through the hardship with the child. Nurses have so many different roles, including empowering the child and family to undertake some of the nursing care and enabling them to feel at the heart of decisions made about them.
During my time at university I have learnt various skills and the theory that underpins this and whilst in various practice areas I have been able to practically demonstrate these. At University we had group work on improving communication skills and in my first placement, my mentor enabled me to talk through some of the assessment of the child with their parents. This really helped and let me practice some of the communication skills I had learnt, as well as having my mentor there for support and guidance if I needed it.
Nursing is not just one thing. Within nursing there are various branches, such as adult, mental health and child. Within child nursing there are so many career opportunities and paths to go down, such as community nursing, health visiting, and various different paediatric wards including neonatal intensive care.
A good nurse is someone who can communicate well; as nurses we talk to various healthcare staff as well as our patients and families. While communicating, we need to have the courage to be an advocate for the children and families in our care. If you are concerned about a child or have any issues regarding their care, then you need to escalate it. Another vital skill nurses need is empathy – being able to empathise with children and their families aids in building a relationship and gaining their trust.
To anyone thinking of a career in nursing, I would say it is the most rewarding career you will ever have. When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like you’re working.