As a nurse I’ve got to…talk to primary school children about my profession

So today was fantastic. As part of the NHS70 celebrations there were a number of ambitions set by Bev Matthews and the team from NHS Horizons. I took up 2 of the 30 day challenges. The first being to write a blog the second to be an embassador for the NHS and Nursing. I volunteered for this back in October 2018 so I was surprised to get the email in March this year inviting me to talk.

I got to attend this school and talk to year 5 and 6 pupils all about what it is like to be a nurse.

The day was organised by the team from Inspiring Dorset, Primary Futures and staff from the newly formed BCP Council. There were people from all over Dorset who had many different roles, quite a few from the health care sector and police but other careers such as catering and the building trades were also represented. I got to meet up with an old colleague from many years ago who was now the head of the NHS Improvement patient safety team. I had followed Donna into risk management and she had worked with many of my current colleagues at RBCH, it’s a small world!

The first part of the morning was to join in a game of ‘What’s my line?’.

I got to sit with 5 other people in front of a hall full of children and teachers whilst questions were asked of all of us. The aim being that by the end of about 15 questions the pupils would be able to guess what we did for a living.

I joined the panel with a pest controller, a podiatrist, a chiropractor, an education specialist at a local animal attraction (Monkey World) and a plumber. The questions included; How much are you paid? Do you work in an office? Do you care for people?

After much deliberation the children started to guess our occupations. They thought I might be a detective or a scientist, actually not too far from the truth!

Then we got to join the children in their classrooms for a speed dating style of questions. We each had 6 minutes to sit at a table to answer as many questions as we were given by the children. This was with no teachers to moderate or hint at so was quite daunting. All in all I think I sat at 12 different tables. The questions were brilliant and really made me think. Here are some of them….

Did I have any regrets?

This was hard to give an answer too as I love my job. I’ve not got any regrets but I didn’t enjoy having to look after patients who were dying. That was my hardest part of my job.

Then the questions went to asking me if I looked after many patients that die?

I talked to the table about that no matter how much it upset me to do it, by doing the best I could and supporting the family and loved ones of those who were dying is where, as a nurse, I could make a real difference and that’s why I do the job.

They wanted to know what I used to do my job. I talked about the use of computers and lots of really clever technology but also the importance of communication skills both written, verbal and non verbal and how important these skills were.

One table wanted to know if I had to look at things that grossed me out. That was hard as I think I’ve become immune to most of them now! So I talked about my time in theatres and holding ‘inside’ anatomy like parts of the bowel and what a heart felt like. They were really interested. Even talking about poo and wee samples just made them giggle,

One of the pupils had been in hospital a lot. She wanted to be an air hostess but really liked the nurses that had looked after her. Others wanted to be footballers, boxers and gamers but there were children who were thinking about working in a hospital as they had family members who were already doing this. I wonder how many of us get into the profession this way? I know for me, and my physiotherapist sister, we have an aunt, uncle, cousin a grandad and his brother all of whom were or are in caring professions before I took my journey into healthcare.

The school had done a fantastic amount of work on gender equality. None of the children showed surprise or raise a question that I was a nurse.

This was a real honour. The intake for this school comes from one of the most socially deprived areas in England. Having the chance to inspire these children with other people who clearly also loved their job and open their eyes to possibilities that they may not have seen was a great opportunity.

If your interested in doing this, contact @PrimaryFutures. It’s a really fulfilling experience.

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