My name is Joanne and I have taken up the challenge of being an ambassador for nursing as part of the Transforming Perceptions of Nursing and Midwifery initiative.

One of the challenges is for nurses and midwives to blog throughout the month of July. This blog is around the pride and joy that I feel about our profession and the care we deliver on a daily basis.

Why I became a nurse

Being a nurse never entered my head during my growing up years. I never had a burning desire to look after people or tend to the sick. I was going to be a famous tennis player or a writer.

It was when a family member became ill that I had my first contact with someone from the nursing profession.

I was studying psychology at university when I was called home. My dad was dying of cancer. There were precious few weeks between his diagnosis and his death, but during this time he was cared for by a very special Macmillan nurse.

I cannot recall her name….. but I can recall her kindness! The way she would come to the house when needed, adjust his medication and make sure he was comfortable - her care and compassion helped my family and I through this immensely sad and difficult period. She will never know but she inspired me to be a nurse from that day forward.

I have been a nurse for 20 years now and I love the job I’ve chosen to do. There have been many changes in the nursing role over the past two decades. It is more technically demanding, we routinely acquire more skills and the amount of documentation we have to complete has increased.  We are more highly skilled, educated and technically proficient than we have ever been. There are abundant career opportunities for nurses in many different fields and specialities.

What matters never changes

However, for me, the one thing that has not changed is the interaction between the nurse and the person that they are caring for.

Nurses are the patients’ constant. In a hospital environment specialists, therapists and doctors come and go whilst caring for the patient. A nurse’s care however lasts for the whole of their shift.

We are there to support the patient through the whole of their day and their hospital stay. We are there at the point of discharge and if a cure cannot be found we ensure that our patients die with dignity and advocate for their wishes.

As a ward manager during my daily work I see many acts of kindness carried out by the staff. I see relationships and trust between staff and patients grow. I see laughter and tears. I see the elderly patients with dementia being cared for with respect and fondness.

Witnessing all these simple actions make me feel proud to be a nurse. As nurses, it is not something that we do consciously or that we do because it is part of our job. We do it because we are nurses and that is the essence of what we love to do.