The year 1999 or was it 2000? London. Princess Anne standing at the top of one of those big old staircases in an ancient building. International Council of Nurses. Still got the cute little London Bus pin badge somewhere… Albert Hall.
In the words of Max Boyce “…I was there”. Surrounded by nursing greats but today I’ve been mulling over those that have had a much more personal affect on my career and helped shape me as a nurse. So on International Nurses Day this year – 19 years after I graduated, 26 years after I first started working in a Welsh nursing home overlooking Three Cliffs Bay on the Gower peninsula where I grew up – I thought I’d share a little about the 2 people that have had by far the strongest influence on me as a nurse – my parents!
The picture on here isn’t me. Although many would say I look like my mother, newly qualified (and I think newly married) in what was apparently the telephone exchange in the Radcliffe Infirmary these are my mum and dad! I love this picture. Both look so happy. Picture posted with their consent.
My mother; intelligent, wise and highly personable worked much of my childhood in various roles. It is she who taught me the importance of travelling the journey with people. As nurses we come in to people’s journeys at different times, for different amounts of time and for different reasons. It is never a given but an honour to do so and when we do we do it with them and with their best interests at the centre. She taught me how to walk with people who are dying right up to and beyond their last breath. The power of being there. Of never judging. Of really noticing – what is important to them, their family, how to bring depth into what might actually be quite a short relationship. “Treat your patients as if they were your own mother/father” etc are words of hers that have stuck with me over the years. The patient and what they are experiencing always central; compassion, care and excellence right there up front.
My dad. For much of my childhood I knew him really as a senior nurse/manager and during my teenage years as an inspector. I’ve said it before, but I feel his hallmark is kindness and this matched with a strong sense of patient advocacy and possibly a touch of the pedantic, sorry attention to detail (!) have been the most important lessons I have learned from him. I have never been one to be easily intimidated and I put that down to dad. Again, someone who pushed the boundaries of his practice- a nurse who could competently intubate I believe was relatively rare in his time- he taught me that it was OK to be bold, yet always alongside graciousness and kindness. Again though, always, the patient first and any hint of institutionalism would be treated with contempt.
Both now retired from nursing although still working in different roles from time-to-time. Both still looking out for people who might need help and swift to assist in whatever way they can. Both started their careers in Oxford where I was also to study years later. All 3 of us in a hospital that is no longer there but what memories we have.
So, here’s to my parents. Thank you for all you have taught me and no doubt will continue to as time goes on. Happy International Nurses Day 2019, let’s hope we get to celebrate many more together 🙂