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Blog: Being a nurse is being there for people

Stacey Finlay, Acting Sister at Domnall Intermediate Care Centre, has three pieces of advice for new nurses.

Stacey Finlay INDI always knew I wanted to help people, but for a long time I had no set idea of what I actually wanted to be.

There were a number of ideas: chef, teacher and psychologist to name a few, before I decided on becoming a nurse when I was nineteen. 

I was taking a ‘year out’ to gain experience in the care sector before starting a social work degree.

Little did I know that my ‘year out’ would be the beginning of a long journey from Care Assistant to Registered Nurse.

Being a nurse is being there for people. 

It is being humane and human; kind and courageous. It's helping people, and as I began to work with nurses and saw what nursing actually is, suddenly the mystery of what I wanted to be was solved, the obscurity was replaced by clarity and I haven’t looked back since.

The best part of being a nurse? The bonds that you form with patients.

Nurses, and the wider nursing family of Care Assistants and Nursing Auxiliaries, is the one group of professionals that is always there. We are there in the middle of the night to provide comfort and reassurance to someone who is scared and worried that they might never get better. We also get to be there to cheer them on as they walk out the door to go home.

Being a nurse is the best job in the world but it’s not easy.

I have three pieces of advice for those new to the profession.

  1.  Don’t be afraid to be afraid

As a nurse you will bear witness to some of the worst and most traumatic things any person could see and they will strike fear in to your heart. The fear will never completely leave but you will learn, with time and experience, to manage the fear. By manage the fear I do not mean shoving all the fear, trauma and emotion deep down inside and carrying on like you’re some sort of super human nurse, because in the long run you will be doing yourself more harm than good.

What I mean is talk to your team, talk to your friends, talk to your family – they are your support network. Everyone in your team has stood where you stand, they have all felt how you feel and they will catch you when you fall – you just need to be prepared to let them, and that starts with confronting your feelings head on.

     2. Be prepared for the fact that you will make a mistake (at least once)

You are human, not some sort of omniscient being – No-one is. None of us is perfect and none of us is infallible. The likelihood is that most, if not all, of your colleagues have made some form of mistake at some point of their careers. The main thing is that you own up to it, ensure any action needed to keep the patient safe and well, is taken and learn from it. In learning from your mistakes, your mistakes will paradoxically make you a better nurse.

   3. Don’t forget to enjoy it!

The first few months can be overwhelming and frightening at times – but it’s also exciting, beautiful and a privilege.

You step into people’s lives and make a difference every day. You are the person that is there as life begins, as life ends and for everything else in between. You’ve worked hard to get here, and the hard work will not stop, but the pay-off is spectacular and I promise that the good will always outweigh the bad.

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