Finding my vocation
Second-year children’s nursing student Jane Green is mum to Connor, age 13. Her other son Callum died in 2014, age 8. He was severely brain damaged after a traumatic birth.
Second-year children’s nursing student Jane Green is mum to Connor, age 13. Her other son Callum died in 2014, aged 8. He was severely brain damaged after a traumatic birth.
Why do you want to be a children’s nurse?
To give back even a tiny bit of the care and attention my son Callum received, particularly from his nurse 'aunties' at Basildon Hospital.
What might you have done otherwise?
Adult nursing. I was in the second year of a three-year nursing diploma when Callum was born and I left studying to care for him. I always intended to return, but I realised children’s nursing was where I needed to be.
Where have you worked previously?
Mainly in offices, doing administration work. I worked in a call centre for a year. I'm proficient at office work, but it was never going to be my vocation.
What do you enjoy most about what you do now?
The honesty of children. A small boy was proudly showing me what his Spider-Man could do when it crashed to the floor. When I tried to say Spidey wasn't well, he said ‘it’s a toy'. He made my day.
What is the greatest challenge?
Being a student nurse caring for many children, not a parent looking after my own child. I was warned when I applied that the switch – from using your experience to inform care rather than shaping care around your experiences – would be difficult.
What would you change if you could?
The reason I'm here. While Callum's life and passing steered me on this path, I would have Callum back in a heartbeat.
Where would you like to be in five years’ time?
I would like to be a nurse specialist of some description. I didn’t intend to be involved in palliative care because of my own experience, but I have been a lay member of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guideline committee for end of life care for children and young people. I am a member of the Together for Short Lives Parent Carer Advisory Group and I am helping to promote the #YouCanBeThatNurse campaign.
What qualities do you think a good children’s nurse should possess?
The ability to smile, to communicate across the age ranges and think holistically, using family-centred care. By engaging the whole family, you are empowering them to support their family member's recovery, or care plan should recovery not be possible. When that happens, they have better memories of harder times.
What inspires you?
It’s more who than what. The nurses and other staff who have shown me so many best practices when caring for my family, which I can take forward. Callum, his big brother Connor, the children and their families.
Outside work what do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy spending time with my long-suffering, non-nursey (my husband's phrase) family. Even if it involves pulling apart practice shown in my husband's favourite show, Casualty.
What achievement are you proudest of?
This is a hard one. After a lot of thought, I'm going to say Connor and Callum. Without them and how they dealt with such an unusual life, I wouldn't have been able to move forward and contribute to change in the palliative care sector – a sector that is often forgotten about – especially for children.
What advice would give a newly qualified children’s nurse?
Consider a child and their family to be specialist members of the multidisciplinary team who, like the professionals, bring knowledge and experience to planning care. Ask them how they feel, what they want and empower them. It will mean more than you ever realise.
Jane Green is studying at Anglia Ruskin University’s Chelmsford campus