Recently, we held a recruitment event at the RVI for nurses who are due to qualify later this year and are interested in a career at Newcastle Hospitals.

It was a busy morning with lots of to enjoy. I saw many conversations taking place between potential applicants and our inspirational staff who welcomed people and shared their knowledge and experience about what it means to be a nurse in Newcastle.

I’ve been reflecting on that morning and the people I met and comparing that with my own personal experience of starting nursing. My best friend and I were all set to start our nurse career together and had set our sights on Newcastle as the nursing school of choice. However, I was impatient and finding that I could start my training at 17, I applied to Sunderland Eye Infirmary to start my pre-registration training. I can still clearly remember my interview with Matron Davies (my mother in attendance sitting beside me) as well as my visit to the hospital alongside the other hopeful applicants and their parents. I didn’t realise until very much later that Matron wasn’t just assessing my suitability, she was also considering whether I had the support that I would need from my parents to enter the nursing profession.

This memory came flooding back to me after talking with some parents at the event, who’d come along to support their daughter.

They were so proud of her and took the time to describe how some family events and experiences had brought her to the absolute conviction that she not just wanted, but needed to be a nurse. She was even clear about where she would like to work when she qualified. I suspect these two parents are typical of many whose sons and daughters enter the profession. Intense pride and hope for the future mixed with some protectiveness and concern about how they will cope in this challenging but rewarding world. The parents I spoke to were reflecting on their experience of the morning, the people that they’d met and the working environment that their daughter would belong to. They were reassured that she would belong to a Trust and to a team which cared for her as much as she cared for others and they told me that they had every confidence that they would be able to support her in the future.

Our Chief Nursing Officer Ruth May has made pride in the profession one of her key priorities since she came into post and there’s lots that’s happening nationally and locally to describe the diversity, challenge, development opportunities and sheer joy of being a nurse. I see that shining out of our nurses every day. Someone recently describing nursing here in Newcastle as ‘contagious’. I knew exactly what she meant.

Nursing used to be commonly called a vocation but this has fallen out of favour. If a vocation is ‘a strong feeling or suitability for a particular career or occupation’ then everybody I met that morning both potential and existing nurses, had a vocation.

I’m proud of what I do and what we achieve together. I feel energised that parents still think our profession is so important that they will support their sons and daughters to events such this one. There’s an age old adage that when you do something you love it doesn’t feel like hard work and I count myself lucky to be in that enviable position. I know if you take the time to stop and think that many of us working in health care feel the same.

So as we head towards Easter, I want to pay tribute and thanks to my family and my parents who were fiercely proud to have a daughter who was a nurse and encouraged me very step of the way. I want to pay tribute and thanks to your families who are all similarly proud and support you as they wave you off to work and break the chocolate eggs open! They care for us so that we can care for others.
Thank you

Ps what happened to my best friend? Well she went on to train as a nurse in Newcastle and has been here ever since. Happy Easter Andrea.