16 February, 2010

An epiphany

As most of you know, I am a nurse. Much as it pains me to admit it I have been a nurse for a very long time. 24 years of my life have been spent in a variety of different uniforms in a variety of different postcodes looking after a variety of different patients. I don't think it's a vocation, at least it isn't for me. I sort of fell into it after answering an ad in the local newspaper. I'd already had a few crappy little office jobs when I thought I should really do something proper and perhaps shag a good looking doctor/meet some interesting people at the same time. I went along to the interview and a short time later found myself in a classroom with 30 other would be nurses. Excellent. A real job.

St Florence's Hospital for the Perpetually Bewildered was a local busy district hospital. It was home to Britain's second busiest casualty department. It had Britain's second longest hospital corridor. It remains to date the busiest hospital I have ever worked in and the most fun I have ever had during my nursing career.

I had absolutely no idea what I was letting myself in for on that first day. I wrote my resignation letter at least three times in three years. I cried. A lot. I drank cheap cider, got food parcels from my grandparents and an aunt, cried some more, laughed more than I ever thought possible and developed a love for Marmite. I worked like a dog for a pittance. I worked with some amazing people. I cared for some amazing people. I would say I studied hard but that would be a blatant lie, instead winging exam success with a slightly better than average brain and pure chance. Three years and three months later, I got my nurse registration, a silver buckle for my new blue belt and a job on my favourite ward.

Twenty one years later and I've hit a brick wall. I'm bored. I'm not doing what I want to do. I'm not getting job satisfaction and I haven't done so for at least ten years. Lately I've been thinking more and more about moving into the field of palliative care. I thought about it when I was a student nurse and was all set to do an allocation in the hospitals own palliative care centre when a change in hospital policy put paid to my plans. A fellow classmate had what might be deemed as a mental breakdown during her own allocation there leading her to attempt suicide after a fight with her mum and sister. She's fine. At least she was then. I haven't seen her for a while. Truth be told she was always a little bit mad by her own admission. Anyway, to cut a long story short - and believe me, it is a long story - it was decided that she'd gone off the rails due to the death of her grandfather 4 months before. The school of nursing instigated a policy preventing student nurses from going to the palliative care centre if they had experienced a bereavement within the previous 12 months. Sadly, my own wonderful grandfather had died the month before hers had and I was transferred to another unit.

I qualified, got a job on a ward I loved and didn't look back. Every now and then I wondered about what would have happened if things had panned out differently. I always enjoyed looking after terminally ill patients on the ward, which I know sounds strange to non nurses, but I always saw it as a privilege to do so.

Fast forward to today and I've been thinking a lot about a move to the field of palliative care. Last week I was channel surfing when I came across a programme about a hospice, a hospice which just happens to be opposite my hospital. Today I was at a meeting where the palliative care clinical nurse consulant talked about her work. For the next half an hour I could think of nothing else but the hospice and how I wanted to work there. It was as though someone was standing in front of me saying, "Run. Run now. You hate what you're doing and you'd be really good at this. You'll love it. Run."

So, I'm thinking of taking up running. Matters are slightly complicated by the fact that I have an interview on Friday for a part time job in the Hospital Next Door as project nurse for 13 weeks which I'd quite like to get. If I get that, I'll stay put for a while. But if I don't, I'm going to pull on my trainers and run.


Foodycat said...

13 weeks isn't long before you start running though. I've been re-reading Tiffany Aching, and I keep thinking about the witches and their place on the edge of things, helping people at the borders of life. If you can take your position there, Mistress Weatherwax, I think you are very brave and it is definitely the right thing to do.

Fen said...

I did 6 months of my counselling clinical placement in palliative care and it was the most rewarding and amazing work I've done. You're right, it is a priveledge to be let into the lives of those who are dying, as well as the families. Good luck with it, I'm sure you'll have some amazing times and some heartbreaking ones.

HH said...

You should go for it SSS. My mum is a Palliative care nurse and has been for the last 20 years or so. She sees it as a privilege too, and though it is hard, heavy work, I think it is rewarding overall.

mscrankypants said...

Feels like the winds of change are calling -- all the best with your decision and you'll make a difference to people's lives whatever you do x.

sontology said...

If you want to do it and it's the right time and place - do it. Do not hesitate.

SSS said...

Thanks, everyone. The interview at the Hospital Next Door went as badly as it could have done short of me standing up and peeing on the table but I gave it a go. And this news just in - the hospice advertised two nursing positions today. I'm petrified. Watch this space.