International Nurses Day 2022 - #BestOfNursing
International Nurses Day is celebrated every year around the world on 12 May, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. The day marks the extraordinary work and care that nurses provide on a daily basis, and a chance to say thank you for the difference they make to patients’ lives.
This Nurses Day, Allison Newell, Executive Director of Strategy, Performance, Business Development and Growth at the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), reflects on her own experiences of the care she has given being a nurse, but also the care she has received through particularly challenging times.
As I reflect on International Nurses Day, I feel a wide range of emotions when I think back on my career which began as a nurse at the age of 18 at the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary. It makes me feel proud, humbled, sad and at times I want to smile. Becoming a nurse and working in healthcare was an easy decision for me, but not a decision lightly made. I was aware being a nurse would require many things of me; to be caring and show initiative carrying out day-in-day-out responsibilities associated with patient care, but also that there would be challenges. I was, however, not truly aware of how totally rewarding it would be, the career foundation it would provide, the lifetime friends I would forge, the amazing people and teams I would work with across the world, the patients and their families I would never forget, and the awareness of life and love for it as a result of the experiences and insight nursing afforded me.
For me, I feel privileged that I have been there at the start of a person’s life, been there at times when someone has received good news, not so good news, life changing news and also been there for people in their final days. For me, a quote by Florence Nightingale has stayed with me during my career:
“Live life when you have it. Life is a splendid gift – there is nothing small about it.”
Being a nurse, and the experiences it has brought me, is part of who I am – it has definitely shaped me. I would suggest you can take the nurse out of wherever, but you can’t take being a nurse out of you. Being a nurse, caring for people, understanding what makes them tick, navigating hospitals and places of care, be it someone’s home or in a mobile unit and via virtual wards and technology is all part of our NHS today. Providing personal care, whether it be essential or life saving, or care that makes a difference to people at the end of their life, is critical. Only this week I saw and felt the difference nurses make, as my mum sadly passed away at home with my brothers, sister and myself present – all supported by a very caring team of individual nurses, who really cared and were there for mum, the four of us and they still are should we need them.
So, 40 years on since I qualified as a nurse, my life has been enriched and on so many levels; career dreams and ambitions have been realised and more. Never could I have imagined that I would get to care for people in so many different ways, whether it be through direct nursing care, running and leading hospitals and networks of providers of care, commissioning care, launching one of the first 24-hour clinical contact centres over 20 years ago in the UK and designing and implementing new population health and care delivery systems in the UK and globally.
All that brings me to the NHS Business Services Authority where I work today. I am really proud of the great care and support we provided as part of the National response to Covid-19, whilst continuing to deliver our services to citizens at home and abroad, to primary care colleagues and providers, whilst supporting colleagues across the NHS through our workforce solutions and insights our data brings. I also feel immensely privileged to be part of #Team CNO, led by Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England and made up of Nursing and Midwifery Leaders across England. All of whom really care about the profession and the people and populations we serve – it is amazing to be part of these teams, caring and supporting people and colleagues in ways I could never have dreamt of 40 years ago.
So, if you are thinking of becoming a nurse I encourage you to go for it; how many careers bring the variety and opportunity to do so many different things and make a difference to so many? To all my colleagues here in the UK and across the world past and present I want to say a big thank you for all you do, have a brilliant International Nurses Day, I am so proud to still call myself a nurse and stand alongside you.