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?