International Nurses Day

Maggie Clancy is director of clinical services at The Children's Trust, the UK's leading charity for childhood brain injury.
She is a registered paediatric nurse with over 30 years of experience. As part of Nurses' Day (12 May) she has written this blog to explain why she is proud to be a nurse.
 
In 1980 I began my career as a student nurse in Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. Nursing was very different with a very hierarchical structure and a first year student nurse being on the very lowest rung. We spent six weeks in school learning how to make beds and perfect cot corners! Sit on bed pans, take observations and of course discover the delights of Liverpool city centre pubs and clubs. We were then released onto the wards and became the workforce looking to our 2nd and 3rd year student nurse colleagues to teach us whilst the trained and auxiliary nurses sat in the kitchen drinking tea and yes smoking! We were terrified to ask a question of a 3rd year student let alone a staff nurse or ward sister. If you put a foot out of place and did not accept the quirks and rituals of the ward you worked on you failed your placement. Three fails and you left the course. I have seen nursing change tremendously over the years and I believe caring for children and their family is a privilege. I have been present at the birth of many babies and the deaths of many children. I have cared for children in intensive care and sat for hours with the families through their darkest and happiest of hours. I have been present when new innovative surgery has been trialled such as heart and lung transplantation and the most pioneering of cardiac and respiratory surgery in children.
I learnt quickly as you had to quickly become competent and be fearless when it came to gaining news skills. My first intra muscular injection was for a 17 year old boy and I was 18. He asked me how many I had done and I confidently said hundreds not elaborating they were all on oranges. I am proud of my nurse and care colleagues and every day I see an example of skill or caring which makes me even prouder. I have worked with paediatric intensive care nurses who are so skilled they can make the difference between a child surviving a very difficult post-operative period or not. I have watched nurses coax the most frightened child to have a blood test and then realise with magic cream it really doesn’t hurt. Here at The Children’s Trust every day I witness nurses and carers making a huge difference, letting a child use their mobile phone to listen to nursery rhymes, taking children on trips which seem impossible, working all hours to cover sickness, sending photos of the children that week to parents who cannot visit, being so in tune with the children that the slightest change is noticed, the list is endless.  I never cease to be proud to be a nurse, if anyone asks me what I do for a living, I say I am a children’s nurse. Nurses' Day, 12 May marks Florence Nightingale’s Birthday. From the moment a new life begins, to saying goodbye to a loved one, and all the stages in between, we're celebrating the remarkable difference nurses make in people's lives. This story appeared originally on the website of our information service, the Brain Injury Hub.

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