Reflective practice

Time to think

Amy Cope finds that with experience comes heartache

Amy Cope finds that with experience comes heartache.


As an agency nurse, I work part-time so that I can fit my shifts around my childcare needs.

As a result, my work-life balance is almost perfect, yet I struggle more than ever with the emotional side of looking after children in hospital.

Seeing children suffering, and families facing their worst nightmares has not got easier as I have grown older, wiser and more experienced; in fact, it has become more difficult. When I get home from work these days I feel sadness, shock and horror at the things I have seen – emotions I never felt as a student or as a newly qualified nurse.

On the face of it, my work should now be slightly less emotionally challenging, so why should I feel this way?

In my career to date, I have worked in extremely sad situations. Before I qualified as a nurse, for example, I worked as a nanny for a child with a terminal brain tumour; as a nursing student, I worked as a care assistant in a children’s hospice; and my first two jobs were in a young people’s mental health inpatient unit, and a large children’s neurosurgery and neurology unit, in London. In all of those jobs I saw things that I rarely see in the general children’s wards I work in now.

Read the article

This article was first published in print in Nursing Children and Young People: volume 27, issue 10

This article is for subscribers only