10 questions with a Nurse

It is no secret that nursing is a demanding career path, so what better way to provide insight into the profession than asking ten questions to a fully qualified nurse.

Amber Horne is a band five staff nurse, currently based at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle. She has extensive experience working in various fields of nursing, and has provided us with insight into what life as a nurse is really like, on a day-to-day basis.

How did you get into it?

The most common way into nursing, which I did myself, is through a 3 year undergraduate degree. There are nursing apprenticeships available but they’re less commonly available.

How many years have you been working in this job?

Including my years spent training, 4 years. So I’ve only been qualified a year but the blood, sweat and tears I endured through my training definitely counts.

What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the field?

I would definitely advise them to ignore the scaremongering. Yes it’s a fact that nurses are underpaid, understaffed and burnt but if you truly want it, you can not let this put you off. As it’s such a demanding career you must ensure it definitely is for you. I would recommend joining your local hospital’s staff bank as a healthcare assistant to give you insight. This also gives you a variety of wards to help you find your niche! Most importantly, have a chat with us! If you ever come across a nurse we’re more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

What’s the best part of it?

For me, the best part of my job is how much of an honour and privilege it is. As an ICU nurse, I see some very poorly patients. Sometimes only short term – seeing them back on their feet is just wonderful. But, in a way, it is some of our longer term patients which is the best part. Experiencing life and death at such a young age is difficult to be exposed to, but the absolute devout love and care I get to witness on a daily basis between patients and their partners or families is the most indescribable feeling. How many people get to say they get up, go to work and witness true, unfiltered, unapologetic love? To be a part of something like that at 23 years old is a true privilege.There aren’t enough words to describe the feeling it evokes.

What’s the worst part of it?

The worst part about my job is what comes with looking after critically ill patients. Losing a patient never gets easier whether you cared for them long term or short term. I don’t want to say that it is the worst part because I try to see the positives in all situations – for example when losing a patient, it makes me grateful for my health and to be surrounded by happy, healthy friends and family. But of course it can be hard to stay in a positive mindset in such a testing environment.

Most memorable day/ event at work? 

I have so many memorable days that shaped me as a nurse. As a student, I got to scrub in on a kidney transplant which was just the most surreal experience ever! Recently, I got to take one of my intensive care patients, who had just undergone a lung transplant, outside to see her dogs with her husband! It took an entire team of people to coordinate it but to see the look on her face, I would do it a million times over. Then you have the bad memories such as your first death or first cardiac arrest – which I won’t forget and don’t want to as they help keep you grounded. But the good memories are what keeps you going.

Have you always wanted to do it?

I think I’ve always wanted to be a nurse. It was my mum that inspired me as a child. She used to do home care and I’d go with her sometimes so I was always surrounded by caring and kind people. It instilled in me from a young age that if I can just leave my corner of the world a nicer place than I found it, then I’ve won in life.

Tell us about your first day at work?

I don’t even remember my first day at work because I was just so plagued with nerves. When you’re a student, there aren’t any expectations of you. So in my head, there were suddenly going to be all these expectations of me as a qualified nurse. But it wasn’t like that at all. For newly qualified nurses you are supervised by a senior nurse for 3 months, so my first day ended up just feeling like a day on placement as a student. There was definitely a lot of imposter syndrome for a while!

Worst mistake you’ve made on the job, and what did it teach you?

Luckily, I’ve never made any serious errors. But I remember quite a minor one from when I was a first year student that plagues me to this day. I was assisting a gentleman eating at tea time, he had a Sunday dinner in front of him. I remember thinking ‘gosh this poor man is taking a while to chew his food, maybe we need to look into giving him a softened diet’ only to look down to his table and he had a pot of dentures there. I’d failed to ask if he had dentures or even checked. I was absolutely mortified and felt so bad for this lovely man I was trying to help! It definitely taught me about the art of slowing down.

How fulfilled are you? 

I’m sure you’ve gathered from the nature of my answers that I wholly love my job. Being a part of something bigger than yourself that leaves a lasting impact on other people’s lives gives you an entirely new perspective on the world that I wish I could impart on everyone I know. I couldn’t ask for a more fulfilling role. Obviously, the long days and night shifts and lack of staffing etc do get to you, but knowing I get to make a difference means the world to me.

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