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“My 5 best memories of working as a front line nurse”

1) Fulfilling my heart – as this career from a young age was the obvious path for me, when I qualified, I realised quite how much I loved caring for people. Learning what a powerful impact you can have on someone’s life, and their families. Having the clinical knowledge and sensitive emotional ability to treat people holistically is unbelievably rewarding. Seeing patients through their journey, even if it’s not a happy ending, but to know you ‘made a difference’ however small. I do miss those days, sometimes just holding someone’s hand and listening to them, sometimes providing more advanced clinical care, all as rewarding really.

2) Learning – my goodness you learn so much, not just in a clinical way but through the experiences you have every day with your colleagues and patients. I found out about new diseases on my journey that I’d not heard of before. I learnt more and more clinical skills and thoroughly enjoyed working as a multidisciplinary team. You learn what’s important to patients and their families. You certainly learn how to build your own emotional resilience.

3) Trusting my sixth sense – I guess many people are already tuned in to their sixth sense, or you may call it intuition (when you just have that ‘feeling’) but as the years passed, I realised that often I just felt that a patient wasn’t stable or right, even though maybe their clinical signs remained stable. I learnt to trust this feeling (which even meant calling doctors out to the ward in the middle of the night to review patients who I was worried about, despite not having any deteriorating signs to share with them!! Not always popular but usually it was the right call!). This trust in my ‘feeling’ has stayed with me and I actually use it lots in my business. Sometimes the facts are all in favour of a decision / choice, but it just doesn’t feel right!

4) Sense of fun – obviously being a lot younger and initially living in the hospital nurse’s accommodation there were parties and lots of them! It was great to be surrounded by like minded caring people. However, it was great to have fun and bring joy into the life of patients. Understanding that a hospital stay can be very frightening and scary for many people, seeing a nurse with a smile and time for you can make such a difference. You soon become very sensitive to how to pitch your mood and being to what is appropriate to the situation. I have also cried with patients and families before when sharing and discovering upsetting news.

5) Rising to the challenge – some things never change, and resources are always short, staff off sick, too many patients, not enough beds – and so it goes on! However, as a nurse on the wards (emergency medicine for me before I became a resuscitation officer) you don’t really have a choice but to keep your patients safe and well and provide the best possible clinical and emotional care that you can. You need energy (which I have lots of – well certainly did back then!), resilience and determination. However, I loved the challenge and made it work, I enjoyed finding solutions and not problems. Yes, sometimes the pressure you are under is stressful and it can be exhausting (especially working shifts – NEVER a fan of nights!) but once a nurse always a nurse!

Written by Jane Lambert (ECG RGN – CEO), Monday 17th February 2020

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