I've been in my current position for just over seven years. It's the longest I've ever stayed with one employer and it's going to be a wrench to go. Don't get me wrong, I'm ready to leave. I've had a lot of issues with management - and some staff - during my time there, I know I've got no chance of progressing in my career and I've had it up to my eyeballs with a lot of the lazier, younger nurses. But I'm also going to miss a lot. I've met some amazing people. I've cared for some wonderful patients and their families. I've cried, I've shouted, I've slammed doors. I've told people to shove things where the sun doesn't shine. But I've laughed till I've cried. I've done good things. I've led by example. I've maintained high standards of professionalism. I've had some deep and meaningful conversations with the most unlikely people. I've held secrets, I've helped people - and been helped in return. I've spent too much time in the pub. I've met kindred spirits and I've made friends for life.
So, next Friday I'll have to submit to the ritual 'afternoon tea' that waits for all staff members who leave. At some point in the afternoon a nurse will take a sheet and place it over a table in the tearoom as a token tablecloth. A cake will be placed on the table, along with a farewell card, a bunch of flowers and a present of some description. Another nurse will be despatched to gather staff and they'll all sit in the tearoom and wait for me, chatting and giggling. Someone will want to sign the card at the last minute. The senior nurse will then come and find me, asking me to come for a walk. The walk will lead to the tearoom and I'll arrive to a round of applause and cheers. There will be a speech, thanking me for all my hard work and wishing me well. I'll probably cry. I'll thank everyone, cut into the cake and have a cup of tea.
At the end of the day I'll hand in my locker key and leave the changing room for the last time. I'm ready to go. I'm looking forward to the challenge ahead. But it's going to hurt all the same.