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Jane Bates: Life is about endings and beginnings and it’s time for me to bid you goodbye

I may be retiring from nursing (and this column) but a nurse will always be who I am

I may be retiring from nursing (and this column) but a nurse will always be who I am


Picture: iStock

A doctor I hardly knew bounced up to me at the hospital recently and told me he had just seen his last patient. He was about to hang up his stethoscope for the final time. He looked gobsmacked, and not in a good way.

I muttered sympathetically, but it’s only now that I am retiring myself that I fully understand how the feeling of loss takes you by surprise. My younger self would look me in the eye and tell me I have done my bit and it’s time to put my feet up, but I would tell my younger self she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She never did, that girl. 

This job gets into your blood

Life is all about endings and beginnings, that’s just how it is. I will never forget the feeling of pure elation when I left school, as we impaled our boaters on the school railings and shimmied down the street, intoxicated by the thought of freedom.

‘It is the people I will miss most, and the buzz, the busyness, the relentless challenges’

I never looked back. But this time it’s different. A nurse is what I am and have been for almost 50 years, give or take a few career breaks. It gets into your blood. I am trying to recapture that end-of-term joy by remembering the plusses; no more manual handling training, no more putting my back out (again) trying to manoeuvre a wheelchair with dodgy wheels into a pokey hospital loo, no more ten-hour shifts. But so far this hasn’t helped.

You know… you’re wonderful

It is the people I will miss most, and the buzz, the busyness, the relentless challenges that keep one’s brain on its toes. Apart from manual handling training, there is never a dull moment. It also means I am bowing out from my regular column, although I may crop up from time to time.

So farewell, fellow nurses, tell yourselves every day you are wonderful, and don’t be crushed by those who play power games. Nursing is not just a job, it’s who we are.


Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire

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