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7 things you should never, ever say to a British s...

7 things you should never, ever say to a British student nurse

1. Wit woo! What’s your outfit like, sexy?

My tunic has been covered in all manner of fluids. From blood to necrotising bacteria and everything in between, trust me, most mentally sound people wouldn’t find my uniform in any sense to be something to bring into any bedroom antics. Plus, the shoes are hideous. The sexy nurse stereotype is ridiculously outdated and alarmingly sexist. Don’t be that person.

2. Couldn’t make it as a doctor, then?

I’m not going to lie. I would love to be a doctor. In theory. In practice, though, could I be that person who just diagnoses an illness, suggests a treatment, and leaves a patient to it before rocking up to the next side room? Ward rounds literally take two minutes before plans are made for treatment. Nah mate. Nurses keep patients alive. They’re the ones constantly monitoring patients, they’re the ones administering medication, they’re the ones sorting out admissions and discharges. Nurses are the ones who look at a patient and instinctively know something just isn’t right. Nurses are the ones who’ll pull the emergency alarm when someone’s coding and they’re the ones who’ll wash a patient after they’ve taken their final breath. They’ll be the ones helping the family to say goodbye, they’ll be the ones dealing with the emotion of the patient and their network. Nurses are the doers, and that’s what I want.

3. Don’t most nurses want to marry a doctor?

This isn’t Grey’s Anatomy, Scrubs, or even House. This is real life. We didn’t spend three years and 2,500 hours of our life to earn £8 an hour for the chances of catching a doctor’s eye and wooing them into a relationship. Note: for those wanting to date a doctor, find a pub, ask single-looking people if they’re doctors, proceed accordingly. Also, doctors are well poor so if bagging one is your plan, don’t quit your job. Seriously.

The only Doctor most nurses need right now is Dr Pepper. And not the zero sugar stuff, either.

Nope. No. Some medications are controlled (such as opiates) and need two qualified, registered nurses just to get them ready, let alone administer them. Others don’t. But they need to be given according to your medication chart. So if a doctor hasn’t prescribed it, or there’s clearly an error, or you’ve already had the max dose, or you’re not due for the next dose for another hour, we cant give it. I specifically can’t get you anything without supervision from my mentor. As a student, all I can do is tell you time and time again you’ll need to be a bit more patient because someone’s just had a heart attack in the next bay and we’re trying to keep them alive. But I can bring you those hospital socks with the rubber grips so you can head to a mirror and check your attitude if you’d like?

5. Why be a nurse? The pay’s not great.

Many times, I question why I’m putting so much time and effort into a notoriously low-paid career. Our unions are begging us to accept a shoddy pay deal (I want to read this back on Friday and hope that we didn’t accept, but I know it’s not likely). For new nurses in England, they’ll also have the weight of a £50,000 debt around their neck. Sure the pay isn’t great. But I worked a career where I’d take home more than enough to pay my season ticket into London, rent and bills, and enough for first class flights to NYC. Doesn’t mean I enjoyed the daily grind, though. Now, I can make a difference in people’s lives. And judging by the compliments and comments from staff and mentors, I’m making a real difference.

6. Hey Laura, wanna come out with us at the weekend?

Firstly, I no longer have weekends. My placement dictates my working pattern and unless I’m in the community working Monday to Friday 9-5, I’m going to be on the ward weekends, days and nights. And when I’m not on placement I’m back on the wards working to earn cash money. And when I’m not on placement or not working, I’m probably sleeping or sorting out my daily life tasks, like shopping and getting my hair dyed. I’m sorry I can’t commit to plans more than a few weeks in advance, and I’m sorry I also can’t commit to last-minute jaunts to the city right now. Hit me up in 2019, yeah?

7. Who did you last see die?

I’m more than happy to de-stress to my family about difficult patients in difficult situations. I’ve witnessed death and destruction on an inhumane level, and that’s only after two years in uni. Sometimes, it’s really tough just to switch off and get those images out of my head, and it’s even worse when I’m feeling sad or down about life. I’m the master of compartmentalising, and nursing school belongs in one box and I’ll only open it when I’m happy to. It takes real strength for me not to spiral into burnout, so please don’t pressure us students to talk about the grim and morbid. We only like discussing it over dinner, tbh.