Voices - Nurses’ immense worth should not be underrated, says Yvonne Coghill

In her inaugural address to delegates at RCN congress in Bournemouth last month, new RCN president Cecilia Anim told a story about meeting a young woman who, when asked what she did, said ‘I am just a nurse’.

Quite rightly, Ms Anim corrected her, saying: ‘You are not just a nurse.’ Sitting in the congress auditorium, which was filled with nurses from a variety of backgrounds, I felt an immense sense of pride and belonging at being part of one of the world’s greatest professions.

I am not ‘just a nurse’, I am part of an amazing body of people who make a difference to others every day.

Last year, I put on a uniform for the first time in years and went ‘back to the floor’. It felt wonderful to not only know that I was a nurse, but for others to see that I was one too.

I carried out fundamental nursing care: washing patients, helping them to get in and out of bed, and encouraging them to eat and drink. These tasks are an essential part of being a nurse, and although I was tired at the end of my shift, I felt an enormous sense of fulfilment.

Someone wrote on Twitter that saying you are ‘just a nurse’ is like saying a diamond is just a rock. Both he and Cecilia Anim are absolutely right. Whatever else you say about yourself as a nurse, you are never, ever ‘just a nurse’.

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