Opinion

Every day is nurses' day

When I started my nurse training in 1977 things were a bit different to how they are today. 

Much of the culture of nursing was still influenced by its military and religious history. 

As general nursing students, we were taught about decorum and respect, deference and deportment: even now I still sometimes catch myself walking along the road with my hands clasped meekly behind my back, just as I was taught to by one of my nursing 'officers'.

The patients in hospital were generally not as sick as they are today: young adults with abdominal hernias would spend five days in hospital, and as a mental health nurse, many of my clients could be categorised as 'the worried well'.

Nowadays nurses are educated rather than trained - if you don't understand the difference think about sex education rather than sex training! 

The patients in hospital are acutely ill, most are old and many are frail and malnourished. There are far fewer mental health beds, and the majority of mental health care goes on in the community where unfortunately 'care in the community' can be a myth. 

But the fundamentals of nursing have not changed - we even still have sisters!

While the press likes to portray nurses as ministering angels, and the truth is some way from that, nurses do care and carry out tasks that no one else does. 

Wherever a patient is in pain, unconscious, incontinent, distressed, disoriented or deluded, the chances are that it will be a nurse who comes to their aid. 24 hours a day, nurses are delivering care, often in difficult and trying circumstances, and most of the time, they love the work that they do.

So the next time you end a frantic shift tired and a bit battered, put yourself into the shoes of one of your patients. The chances are you'll see what a great job you've done.

Happy nurses' day.

I am a nurse

Take four minutes out of your day to listen to a song about nursing