Catherine Brown wanted to become a speech therapist after finishing a degree in English and Linguistics at Queen’s University. But after spending the summer in America looking after young people with a learning disability she realised that her true vocation lay elsewhere. Now coming to the end of her first year studying for a nursing degree, Catherine tells us why it is a real privilege to be a student nurse
It's safe to say that anyone who knew me growing up would not have expected me to end up where I am today; not only back at Queen’s University doing a second degree but, more importantly, as a student nurse.
Once I was introduced to the world of caring for others, however, I can safely say I found what made me happy and there was no going back. After spending a brief summer working in America caring for individuals with a learning disability I came back determined to make a difference and nursing was without a doubt the obvious choice for me.
My first day was one of the most nerve-wracking days I've had to experience. With my last degree firmly in the Arts the thought of academics and the science was far beyond my comfort zone.
After six short weeks of class and reassurance from lecturers and my tutor, it was time for the first placement and nothing could have prepared me for the total joy I felt, finally confirming I was in the right place.
It's now the end of the first year and I've spent many weeks trying to learn both the theory of the human body, how to calculate medicine dosage, tortured my family in practising taking blood pressure, submitted my first assignment and learnt the important qualities it takes to be a nurse, such as compassion and integrity.
But, most of all, I've learnt that the moments of tears and utter fear are all worth it when you help an individual and make them feel like themselves again - if only for a few short minutes.
Nursing isn’t without its challenges and it has tested my patience and determination on more than one occasion - both the workload while in class and the long hours on placement – but, surprisingly, I don’t think I’d change a minute of it.
Being a student nurse is at times surreal but also an absolute privilege. In the first year I've already made invaluable memories, both with my classmates, but also with my patients who make the job worthwhile.
In two short years I will hopefully be able to say with pride and a smile: “I’m a nurse”. Until then, I’ve got a few more crying fits and exams to get through, but I also have two years to enjoy every minute of learning new things and, most importantly, making a difference to people’s lives.
What do you think makes a good nurse? What would you say to Catherine?