What nurses do every day is more important than winning an Olympic medal

Let’s enjoy and celebrate Team GB’s incredible achievements in Rio – but take a moment to acknowledge that nurses are heroes every day, says nursing student Georgina O'Reilly-Foley.

Let's enjoy and celebrate the incredible achievements of Team GB in Rio – but take a moment to acknowledge that nurses are heroes every day, says nursing student Georgina O'Reilly-Foley

I adore the Olympic Games. Team GB and hundreds of other athletes around the world sacrifice so many years of their lives, shedding blood, sweat and tears for a discipline they believe in.

Olympic team returns from Rio
Team GB athletes display their Olympic medals. Photo: Getty Images

Being able to represent your country and have the whole nation supporting you must be amazing.

Making mum proud

I asked my mum if I could ever make her as proud as the athletes’ parents and she replied: ‘You already do, Georgina. You do a job that only a special type of person can do. Yes, we can all be kind and caring but only a few of us will do that for people we have never met.’

My mum was not undermining the talent of Team GB – they are incredible and deserve all the medals gained. But her reply made me realise that we nurses make our families proud every day.

All part of the job

We help people to get better and carry out everyday tasks that many of us take for granted. We help a patient post-surgery to use a commode in comfort and with dignity. We welcome patients into clinics who have recently been diagnosed with cancer. In A&E we console relatives who have been told the worst news imaginable about a loved one.

We see Olympic heroics every four years and forget that we carry out heroic acts every day. Regardless of changes in the NHS or government policy, we still go to work and do what we do best - care and learn.

I appreciate that Team GB althletes have sacrificed so much to achieve what they have, but we do not have to run over a finish line to realise what we have accomplished.

Studying for a nursing degree for three years – I am not quite there yet – is not easy. We have to overcome many barriers and face situations others would not wish to deal with.

Going for gold

So why do we do it? Because we have a calling. Why do Olympians do what they do? Because they have a calling.

We may not gain a gold medal after a shift but we do ensure patients are clean, comfortable, fed and watered while their loved ones are not by their side.

Is achieving this more important than receiving a medal? Of course it is. We help others, assist doctors, wipe up bodily fluids, pound the hospital corridors and handle paperwork – and we do this because we care and want to be the best nurses for our patients and their families.

Like myself, I imagine many of my fellow nursing students have doubted themselves, or had a mentor who did not turn out to be the teacher they had hoped for.

To them I say: ‘You have got the calling so you are halfway there. Never give up.’

About the author

Georgina O'Reilly-Foley

Georgina O'Reilly-Foley is a third year nursing student at Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford


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