“Here come the young… with open minds and hearts… inclusive from the start… here come the young”
From the song “Here Come the Young” by Martyn Joseph (2019)
Being a tweeting nurse brings me much joy – as well as the odd occasion for despair admittedly! I have enjoyed reading the accounts from #TeamCNO and nurse tweeters such as Dann Gooding and Ruth May who have been in to schools talking to young potential nurses of the future with the #nursingnowengland campaign. Cue a flood of pictures using the #futurenurses hashtag wearing the gender-neutral super cute and practical mini nursing uniforms (and yes, I SO want to find one of these for my 6 year old…!!)
But behind these lovely heart warming stories is an important message and dialogue. My daughter is 6. Luckily she has a grandpa who is a nurse and is totally unphased by the idea that men can be nurses, in fact I’m pretty sure she would just shrug at the idea that nursing is stereotyped. However, just go into any toy store/ supermarket, find the dressing up/role play section and you’ll find some lovely pretty blue dresses, many with a red cross neatly on the front somewhere and if you’re lucky a frilly apron and hat to go with it. Scotland were first in going into schools with gender-neutral uniforms but we need to ensure these aren’t just seen as a novelty; this is a moment we need to capture the momentum of and ride with it. Seriously. How DO I get one for my daughter?!
The young are incredible. I see this every day with my own children who constantly amaze me with the way they think and their capacity for looking beyond what is placed in front of them. They grow and they go their own way… some to hopefully become nurses, others maybe to do other amazing things.
But it doesn’t stop there. We need to look to the here and now nurses as well as the future ones. I was reading this morning on twitter – someone who didn’t have enough money to socialise or buy clothes. A student nurse.
20 years ago, I remember the embarrassment of phoning in to my placement to admit that my money had completely run dry and I couldn’t afford the bus to get in that day. A real low point amongst the days of checking down the sides of sofas in the hope of finding the odd coin, calling my dad to send yet another emergency tenner… all whilst working my socks off at the local hospital just to try to earn enough money to get by. It wasn’t acceptable then. It is not acceptable now. I went to RCN Congress, I spoke in the main auditorium about it, my situation was not unique. 20 years passes and today’s students face the same. What are we doing to our profession?
We need to nurture our students and by the way that includes in the way we talk to and about them. If I hear the term too posh to wash another time being used as a slur against them…
Honestly, these guys are awesome. Just follow some of them on twitter and see what they get up to. They will blow your mind. They are our future and deserve so much more. So next time you see a student in your workplace, or on twitter, have a think about how you can make their day worthwhile, how you can encourage them, and how you can inspire them. You never know, by the end of your day you may find that they have inspired you and helped you gain a new perspective on your profession.
I’m pretty old now. Well I’m 41. I never expected to be 41, in my heart I’ll probably always be about 25 but hey! Here I am and I need to keep my attitude in check. Sometimes we slightly more mature nurses can be tempted to cling on maybe a little to tightly to the images that come through our rose tinted spectacles. In the words of my daughter’s favourite Disney Princess let it go… let it go… We don’t need them. Honestly, we don’t. We do need to be fitting our experience and the useful things we can pass on into a frame fit for today’s purpose. The fears from the past can endanger the future. These guys are not too posh to wash, a degree does not equal a lack of compassion and intelligence is nothing to be afraid of. Let’s listen to them and work with them and do all we can to support and encourage them.
Oh, and if anyone has one of those mini-me uniforms let me know!