A day in the life of... A nurse
IN A HOSPITAL nurses are quite often overshadowed by doctors but if you’re sick and end up needing treatment the one person who mainly looks after you is a nurse. They’re the ones bringing medication, cleaning up, checking up, helping you in and out of bed and the rest, but how come they never seem to receive the same gratification as doctors?
Kate Win is a cancer care nurse and she says it isn’t about gratification but instead it’s about the personal touches you get after a solid day’s work.
“For me I love it because of the care, it is talking to the patients and their families,” Nurse Win said.
“Being able to walk away at the end of the day and think, yep I’ve helped somebody and I’ve made a difference, and it all sounds cliche but that is what it really is,” she said.
Nurse Win said she’d always wanted to be a nurse but it wasn’t until after she had children that she decided it was the path for her.
“When I first left school I wanted to do nursing but all my teachers told me my marks were too good for it so I ended up doing an environmental science degree,” she said. “I hated working in the field so after I had children I retrained as a nurse.”
In all jobs there are challenges but Nurse Win said there are moments where you need to surpass these challenges and simply get on with the job.
“You need to have empathy and you need to understand that you’re not just caring for a patient, you’re caring for their whole family, which can be an issue sometimes but that is what it is all about,” she said.
After the medical knowledge, the most important skill to have on the job is compassionate interpersonal skills. Nurse Win said all good nurses need to have good communication skills but there is also room to learn on the job.
“You can’t be a good nurse and not be authentic,” she said. “You might come into the job caring and empathetic but on the job you’ll learn how to be empathetic but not condescending because patients will sniff you out when you’re not genuine and authentic.”
Nurse Win said the physically strenuous aspects of her job are also very demanding.
“The physical side of nursing is huge, there is lots of bending, lifting, pushing, stretching,” she said. “That can impact upon your family life because sometimes you just want to go to bed after a long day, but it is often overshadowed when you reflect on the people you’ve helped across a day.”
“As the nursing workforce ages it is going to become difficult for nurses who want to continue into their old age because of all the strenuous and physical aspects of the job,” she said.
Nurse Win gave some sound career advice to anyone looking at entering the nursing sector. “Be authentic, don’t enter the profession with rose colour glasses,” she said.
“There is still the perception that the nurse is the doctor’s handmaiden like it was in the 50s and the 60s, but it is a lot more hands on.”
“Make sure you do your best at uni because Ps don’t get degrees, you should be aiming to do your best because if you needed care you’d want the best looking after you,” she said. “Also never ever forget the human side of the job because that is what makes this job.”