This blog doesn’t have a theme as such. It’s more of a stream of consciousness – rambling, discursive, offering no objectives or rights and wrongs, it doesn’t really go anywhere. I share it on that take-it or leave-it basis. You might find it interesting, you might not. It may rings bells with you, it may be a complete turn-off. If you want to comment, please do, if you can’t be bothered, then that’s fine too.
This week I met with a nursefriend who I don’t see very often. We did what people who don’t see each other very often do – catch up on work news, update on families, share bits of gossip. And then we did what nursefriends do – talk about all things nursing. Not the detail of everyday working, but the bigger stuff.
We started with ‘what is it that nurses want?’ and moved through ‘why are nurses always looking for leadership?’, ‘what makes nursing really work?’ and ‘why does it feel like we’ve been here before?’. We covered the appetite for starting campaigns like ‘bursary or bust’ and wondered why we seem so good at starting things but less good at follow through. We mused over the attraction of slogans and ‘joining in’ stuff – The 6Cs, those ‘shiny stars’ used on Twitter, ‘Caremakers’ (whatever happened to them?), and so many more going back over the years. Some good and useful, some little more than look-at-me exercises. We agreed that there seemed to be something about being part of a defined group that nurses found irresistibly attractive – just look at how we defend our specialisms and constantly seek to stratify and hierarchify (is that a word?) them. We wondered about whether nursing would ever be a cohesive professional group with cohesive professional aims.
We discussed how well or how inadequately we understand the purposes of professionally related organisations – the Royal College, the NMC – and whether those organisations do a good enough job of talking to the public rather than the profession. We talked about whether nurses do a good enough job of talking to the public rather than to each other (I don’t mean talking to our patients or clients, but talking to the wider world), we talked about whether we should be concerned about our ‘voice’ and where, or who it comes from. And even if we have a ‘voice’ at all. We mused upon how many other nursefriends were having identical conversations.
We were struck that in this time of unprecedented public focus on the NHS – all over our TV screens, or device screens, the print media, on the political agenda – that we hadn’t noticed any nurses offering an opinion, or being interviewed, or being a ‘talking head’ as an expert voice. We wondered why – beyond the constraints of employment and being nervous of voicing an opinion. After all, there are lots of nurses (thousands) not working in the NHS who might venture to offer a view.
In amongst all this, we also talked about what great jobs we had been in, how we had made real differences, how much we wanted to find ways to help colleagues who were under pressure. We talked about how we had been helped, what had worked for us, who had made a real impact. It was a really fabulous couple of hours. And, so what? Will we do anything? Did it mean anything? After all, it was just a conversation that any two nurses would probably find themselves having if they sat down to chew the fat over a coffee.
I told you it was a stream of consciousness. I’m trying to work out if I want to do anything with it. If there is anything I can do with it. Right now, who knows.
*nursefriend – someone who you know only because you are both nurses. My definition.