Night Nurse: Why Nursing?

“What made you join this course?”

Small talk has the same script.

I’m a strange mesh of spontaneous actions and overthinking my thoughts in that I can change my plans and mind at the drop of a hat, but once I do I create a 5-year plan in my head including opportunities for promotion, chances of affording a house, feeding my 12 future cats, etc. So in July 2015, I decided to apply for a child postgraduate nursing course in London starting September 2015, emotionally blackmailed my co-workers into reading my personal statement and applied to a bunch of universities and had a place in August.

Now, up until July 2015, I never thought I could be a nurse. Nurses in my mind were these steely-eyed matronly types, shedding nary a tear in the face of death and never gagging in the face of bodily fluids. At the very least they were like Carla from Scrubs: tough, sassy and no-nonsense. I’m less tough and more soft and jiggly like a pudding cup. I cry during Disney movies and freak out when there’s an eyelash in my eye. I couldn’t imagine myself having the backbone to become a nurse until I realised that I had been a healthcare assistant for the same amount of time it takes some people to have more than one kid. Not once had I fainted, threw up or been fired. So, facing the quarterlife crisis a lot of millennials face, I decided to go back to university and do something with all that experience.

The thing about nursing is that for many people, nursing is a “calling”. A lot of people who apply to do nursing do so out of a feeling that this will complete them, that this is the Dream Job. That nursing, despite the difficulty of being overworked and underpaid, is a rewarding, enlightening experience that they have wanted to do since they were but babes, nestled in their mothers’ arms as a smiling angelic nurse gracefully took their blood pressure and proceeded to Save a Life.

Now, I’m not saying that those ideas or bad or even wrong – ignoring my exaggeration, they’re all accurate thoughts.

It’s just really crappy to hear all that when your reason is “I had a quarterlife crisis and couldn’t afford any other postgraduate options.”

And it’s even worse when someone asks you “why children’s nursing” and you reply with “because adults suck.”

But those things are true too. Thinking back, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who found my reasons kind of lame, especially when I was validated by my mentors who so far have given reasons including “I dossed about in A-Levels” and “I did one of those personality quizzes online”. Motivation comes from many places, and whether it’s the memory of a modern-day Florence Nightingale swaddling you as a child or you just happened to see an ad for nursing while filling in your UCAS application, it really doesn’t matter. As long as you (and I!) are devoted to being good at what you do, and you approach the patients with empathy and care, no one is gonna ask you whether nursing was your calling or your last resort.

But seriously. Adult patients really do suck.

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