I was racking my brains for a topic to post on the Blog this week – seemed like a long way off when I confidently said ‘yes’ to Ken. Then it struck me that I should write about something that I felt passionate about……….. nursing and hope that my meanderings would fit the bill.
I am one of those people who never wanted to do anything else but become a nurse. I have no idea where the notion came from, but know that from a very early age, when relatives would ask “and what do you want to do when you grow up?” my answer was always nursing.
In fact I spent a day shadowing a community mental health nurse (thanks Judy) last week out in Stranraer and she asked me what would I have done if I had not been a nurse? I could not think of an answer as the thought had never occurred to me before! I am still not sure what my answer is.
It came as a bit of a shock to me earlier this year when I realised that in 2014 I will have been in nursing for 30 years. I have no idea how that happened and it has passed by in a flash, but it made me think about the strong characters who have probably helped shape me over the years.
One of my first memories is my very first student placement in a Care of the Elderly Rehabilitation Ward. All the patients who were able were helped up to the dining room for breakfast and while they were enjoying this, the Ward Sister would make up a bucket of bleach, strip all the beds and wipe them all down. That left me with a lasting legacy that both Martin Connor and Elaine Ross will attest to!
Progression through my training was marked by changing the number of stripes on my hat – each additional stripe adding a little pressure as it identified me as someone with a little more knowledge. As a first year student the sense of awe we felt when working alongside a third year student should not be underestimated, but my how I hated that hat.
The sense of bursting pride when I got to ‘put my stripe up’, was presented with my hospital badge and got my first staff nurse post was incredible. The Ward Sister I worked for then still sits on my shoulder to this day. Her sense of compassion, strength of feeling about what was acceptable and what our patients should expect from us was very powerful. She knew every patient and their family with what seemed to me, as a newly registered nurse, a supernatural ability and I desperately aspired to be like her. When I finally became a Senior Charge Nurse years later – she was the role model in my head.
I am proud to be the Nurse Director here in Dumfries and Galloway and feel like I have the energy for another 30 years. However the most satisfying and hardest role I have been in was that of a Senior Charge Nurse, with the need to be all things to all people. I can honestly say that I loved my job at that point in my career. Indeed – there are consultants here who worked with me in that role – and if you can guess who they are – you could ask them whether my aspiration held true.
What keeps my feet on the ground and re-affirms my values are undertaking clinical and shadowing shifts with nurses at the point of care – so keep your eyes peeled I could be working alongside you very soon……….
Hazel Borland is Executive Nurse Director for NHS Dumfries and Galloway
Next week Dr David Hall, Consultant Psychiatrist, will post his first blog for dghealth.