Being Brilliant

Why be an ordinary nurse when you can be a brilliant one

“So you want to be a nurse?”

As I walked into I was pleasantly surprised to be told that City College Coventry had been in contact saying that 5 of their Access to Health and Social Care students had feedback that the University of Northampton was their ‘best interview experience, being made to feel welcome and reassured’ during their time with us. This was an unexpected gift and prompted me to write this blog post, coming as it did just after we’ve had positive acceptance confirming student nursing places for adult nursing for the oncoming year. This is in spite of radical changes impacting nurse education including complex issues around funding and student bursaries.

This feedback is just the sort of welcomed response that we actively promote as part of ‘Being Brilliant’ a philosophy derived from positive psychology embedded in our nursing curriculum. Similarly, the Royal College of Nursing is proposing a campaign to ‘Say thank you’ that is part of celebrations for Nurses’ Day, Thursday 12th May 2016, which also sees recognition of their 100th anniversary of shaping nursing. They are asking that we express our thanks for care received, or as in this case to those who have provided support ‘often in very difficult times’ (RCN 2016).

So as the admissions tutor for adult nursing I want to say a massive thank you to everyone involved in recruiting our future nurses at the University of Northampton, especially to our student nurses whose brilliance makes real the aspiration of “I want to be a nurseInstagramCapture_f6e2de9a-75bf-4eec-80c5-fbed96649346”.

Jacquie Ridge, Admissions Tutor: Adult Nursing. University of Northampton.



Royal College of Nursing (2016) Nurses’ Day [online]. Available from: [Accessed: 10.05.16]

There is a lot to get sorted when you’re starting university, especially if you’re starting a nursing degree! Accommodation is one of those big things on the list that needs sorting! As a third year adult student nurse I have experience of living in halls, a student house and back home. Living in halls is great for your first year! When you’re initially torn away from your parents, it’s great to have flatmates around. However, I fully recommended when you apply for halls that you tick the box that states “With other people on my course” this way the university will try their best to accommodate you with others that will understand what you’re going through, especially when our term is longer than most and the other students return to family and friends back home. For your second year, you’ll most likely end up in a student house. Ensure you begin to look early otherwise houses will soon be in short supply. If going for a student house, I fully recommend you over think who your housemates will be. You are away from home and need a good support network, in my case I moved in with a few girls that I lived in halls with and for my situation this was best for me. You will have bills to split and a house to clean so it’s best to get to know them first! Finally, commuting from your family home. Ensure that your family home is a good and reasonable distance from the university and host placement sites. You don’t want to find yourself in the situation that it becomes to far to travel. I am a car driver and have never had a problem getting to placements, as well as it opening up further opportunities when community nursing. You seriously need to consider where you plan to reside if you are relying on public transport, especially if you’ve been scheduled a long day on placement, 0700 start and 19.30 finish. Living in hospital accommodation maybe an option. Overall, I’ve had a good experience in all accommodation settings, but a big recommendation is to research all aspects whichever you decide.


Shoes are a woman’s best friend

Don’t get me wrong, some days I love waking up, getting ready and having 20 pairs of shoes to choose from. Some days I’ll begin the day in trainers, engage in a little fancy ballet pump wearing and end the day in heels. I mean my cosy rabbit slippers, I don’t get out much. Waking up at 05.00 however, that story always has the same ending, my nurse shoes, and my best buddies. By far, my most unattractive, non-fashionable piece of footwear. But let me tell you, they are by far my best investment since beginning my nursing degree, as well as all my nursing books obviously!
Are they ugly, yes.
Are they cool, no.
Do I care, no, because at the end of a 12 hour shift I am not forced to embrace in rubbing my poorly feet in pain, nor do I waddle or limp around the house or buy countless cracked heel or blister products. As much as I love them, I admit they are not on display at home on my shoe rack, they do stay hidden under my wardrobe, but they’re a rather modest pair of shoes and don’t enjoy being in the limelight too much.
Sure they were a little more expensive than some other options, but my leather, slip on shoes help get me through the day, ooh and chocolate, and fruit, I’m lying, just the chocolate part.

When something sticks in your mind

You know when something sticks in your mind…well…at a team meeting recently a colleague of mine stated her intentions to retire and said, “I am nursing history, you are nursing’s future”, which made me think about my own nursing history. Forty years ago this year I walked down St Giles Street in Northampton towards the General Hospital feeling very nervous…I didn’t feel my legs would hold me up! I remember coming across another new student dressed in black shoes, tights and the familiar blue mackintosh. I can still recall the anxiety and excitement as I followed her into the hospital for my first day of being a pre-nursing student which was a prelude to starting nurse training. I remember the excitement of wearing that uniform and being referred to as nurse. I recall the fear forty years on and I am reminded of it each year as me and other colleagues meet new students starting their own nursing journey.

It has taught me so much and stretched me beyond all imagination. Yes, there have been times when I would have gladly worked in the local supermarket, cleaned the oven, even have all my teeth removed, rather than carry on but I did and I have to think why. Over forty years I have met some fantastic people. I have laughed until I have cried. I have cried tears of sadness with patients and relatives. I have surprised myself and others in what I can do and my level of resilience. I have been a part of people’s lives in a way that I cannot say and would not under any circumstances divulge but ultimately it has been a privilege. It is the joy and satisfaction of working with people in all situations, at all times and in all environments. Nursing for me is a compulsion to work with, and care for people. This has been crafted by education, by the people I have cared for and worked with, and the notion of doing good. This September I will meet and greet the incoming cohort of student nurses and I wonder what their nursing history will be. I wonder what words will stick with them?

Jo’s view …

Why be ordinary when you can be brilliant?…………..Life got in the way, the time wasn’t right, the situation wasn’t right, the finances weren’t there, so getting into the University of Northampton to study nursing at my age was a big deal. It’s what I had dreamed of and now I have the opportunity to shine and prove to the world just how brilliant I want to be.

The concept of” Being Brilliant” isn’t difficult to understand. It’s woven into our course curriculum from the very beginning teaching us to make positive choices, being mindful and aware, representing nursing students in a good light and being the best we can be. The Being Brilliant team have enabled the student nurses to share their experiences and consider other ways of being the best we can be. We are developing our emotional intelligence and understanding the impact we have on others and more importantly the impact they have on us. We have learned to identify the “mood hoovers” in our lives, the people who suck any positivity out of life, and in turn seek out our own inspirational role models. Being brilliant is about always doing the right thing even when nobody is there watching you!

As a nursing cohort we have shared our inspirational quotes and experiences with each other, we have laughed, cried struggled and supported each other. We have travelled to London to visit the museum dedicated to Florence Nightingale one of nursing’s all time heroes, and we have listened to the Being Brilliant team encouraging and inspiring us to shine. Being a nurse will not be easy of that I am 100% sure, but one thing that will never leave my thoughts is……..why would I even consider being ordinary when I can be brilliant?

Jo Featherstone, March 14

Little words on Being Brilliant

‘Being brilliant’ those two little words conjure up a host of ideas, possibilities, thoughts and potential. The word ‘brilliant’ is defined by the Oxford dictionary in its adjective form as ‘very bright’. So this would suggest that ‘being brilliant’ is to be very bright. Bright at what? Bright natured? To be the person who walks in a room and changes the atmosphere? To be the one who infuses others with positivity, laughter. We all know ‘that person’ the one who everybody wants to talk to at a party, groups of people seem to gravitate towards them and they hold the attention of others simply by exuding their brightness. The person who in a crisis can see that light at the end of the tunnel and knows that they just have to keep moving forward to get there and do so whilst seemingly lifting and taking with them all those who seem to have lost that light.
Or does ‘bright’ mean to be intellectually intelligent? To be able to formulate thoughts and opinions in a fashion that nobody else can. Or indeed be able to convey those ideas in a fashion that means other people can. To be the person who can make seemingly impossible ideas and concepts, possible. We all know that person too, the person who can make pharmokinetics sounds as simple as counting smarties. And what’s more – they can make it exciting. Their enthusiasm for a complex concept can become infectious, and whilst we may not wish to debate philosophy ever again, at that moment in time, in that conversation with that person, we ‘get it’ and think about it and we consider it. And regardless of whether that information is called upon again or abandoned in an instant, in that moment we held that information and we owned it. And they, the ‘bright’ one led us there.
Or do we own that ‘brightness’, in our own being brilliant moments we allowed the positive person in to our life, we enabled the smart person to share their thoughts with us, and what we then chose to do with that moment of brilliance is up to us. And maybe that is what ‘being brilliant’ means, to take the brilliance of others and harness it, grow it, evolve it.
The oxford dictionary also off the noun definition of ‘a diamond of brilliant cut’, again, when considering ourselves, maybe we are those diamonds, being brilliant and bright.
VW 01.06.2015

Celebration of Nursing

I was very honored to be chosen as the nursing student to represent the University of Northampton at the annual Students’ day of the Florence Nightingale Foundation. The Foundation aims to keep Florence’s legacy alive and promote nurse education by providing scholarships to nurses. Nursing and midwifery students from all over the UK had come to St Thomas’ Hospital in London (where Florence opened her first training school for nurses in 1860) to learn more about Florence and her amazing work. People had even flown in from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and it was great to meet nursing students who, like me, are at the start of their nursing journey, full of enthusiasm, pride and brimming with ideas. Just what I needed after months in a stuffy library working on my dissertation!

The first part of the day was taken up with an excellent debate about many aspects of nursing, benefiting from the knowledge from a panel of experts. We got the chance to ask questions and have our say about a variety of topics. It was obvious that leadership is the Big Thing in nursing today, as it took up most of the questions. I have to admit that I have been a little cynical about the way politicians use leadership as the answer to all the problems in the NHS. However, after the discussion, I finally understood what leadership means to nurses at the bedside, how everyone can make a difference and that no improvement is too small.

When the subject of nursing research came up, I explained how at Northampton, our nursing dissertations are research proposals for tangible patient improvement projects. The panel said they very much applauded the approach the School of Health at the University has taken and that all students should try to get their work published or their research proposals put in practice.

We then watched a documentary about Florence’s life which reminded everyone how much one person can achieve if they have the drive, passion and knowledge (and, in Florence’s case, a knack for statistics apparently also helps). In a time where no respectable woman wanted to be a nurse, Florence set in motion fundamental reforms to the profession and to how hospitals were run. She sure was a leader before her time. We visited the Florence Nightingale Museum (where fellow nursing pioneers Edith Cavell and Mary Seacole were given the attention they so richly deserve!). The day ended with an impressive commemorative service at Westminster Abbey with more than 2000 nurses, old and young watching Florence’s Lamp being carried as a symbol of the transfer of nursing knowledge.

I smiled all the way through the day and came home invigorated. I have seen the future of nursing and it is in good hands. I can’t wait to qualify!

Year 2 transition year

Thank you to one of our year 2 student nurses for this BLOG post.

Second year was entered with caution. “The limbo year.” Everyone gets advice from previous years. I was no different and this left me very anxious to begin. Yet I felt a sense of achievement that I had proved myself  “I must be doing something right” from my first year to be allowed to continue. Starting a placement at the beginning of year 2 was daunting as ”initiating care” had been drummed into us in the few lectures we had leading up to our first day. “I’m only a first year” wouldn’t cut it anymore. I actually found having that little bit more freedom gratifying. The most bizarre part I found was having a younger cohort ask me for help! I have found that the response of “I am second year” is more accepted. You’re not a newbie but you’re not quite there either. The work load is manageable, and the pathophysiology although hard to learn was very interesting and found to be beneficial when dealing with patients on placement. I have found year 2 to be the year of understanding. Starting to feel that little bit more “Nurse”.

Why be ‘Brilliant’?

Why be ‘Brilliant’?
So what is Being Brilliant (BB) all about? Let’s start with what it isn’t! Being Brilliant isn’t about jazz hands or being manically happy and declaring ‘Ain’t life great!!’….That would just be annoying! (Who remembers Brilliant Kid..see YouTube!) Being Brilliant isn’t about asking you to make massive changes to you life (just small ones) and it’s not about complicated techniques (just simple steps). The principles underpinning BB are grounded in academic research and evidence based …but it isn’t about pouring over academic language or making sense of tricky conceptual frameworks!

Being Brilliant at UN is about applying the ideas of Andy Cope and Andy Whittaker (The Art of Being Brilliant) to our curriculum to enhance our lives and to have a positive impact on patient care. Being Brilliant is about small changes consistently applied that can have a big impact. Being Brilliant is about being the best version of yourself….not just on a good day, but every day! Being Brilliant is about making the right choices…the most valuable choice you can make is to have a positive attitude and we will explore how and why (..and the evidence that you will live longer!! How brilliant is that?)
Being Brilliant is about wanting to have a positive impact on people’s lives because that is why we are nurses.
The two Andy’s have introduced their ideas into big companies and corporations but have told us that they think there is nowhere more important for this than in working with patients …we agree.

Hello and Welcome

So here we go this is the first BLOG post for Being Brilliant at University of Northampton…watch out world here we come!

Being Brilliant is the philosophy of the nursing programme in the School of Health at the University of Northampton. Based on the principles of The Art of Being Brilliant and in response to the findings of the Francis Review the nursing team at UoN decided to respond in a unique way with our own version of Being Brilliant.

Well here is our BLOG and its intention is to share our experience of bedding in our philosophy share our brilliant student’s experiences and host key subjects which are really important to us.

Keep an eye on it as we may well surprise you with different posts on a variety of brilliant subjects.

There is a clue here Brilliant….

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