I write this the day before I start my first nursing post, it has been a long time coming – five years in fact. Gaining a Bachelor of Nursing in Adult and Mental Health Nursing took four years and before that I completed an Access to Higher Education Diploma in a year while working part time. Five years.
It’s been a while since I blogged, I love doing it but it takes me some time to get going and when I do I have a million different blogs I want to write. There are many different versions of the blog I wanted to write for RCNNQN, focussing on many different aspects of this transition from expert student to novice nurse. But the focus for this one is the cohorts who completed their nurse education in a pandemic. Please don’t forget these cohorts.
This blog isn’t dedicated solely to the September finishers, but to all recent newly registered nurses. There are thousands of us. From those who started their first posts before COVID-19 reached our shores, who have had to cut short their preceptorship programmes due to the need for as many on the frontline as possible. And those who completed their courses slap bang in the middle of the UK’s first wave, who had to learn quicker than ever before how to function as a new nurse. To those who were presented with ‘opt in’ or ‘theory only’ as options on routes for course completion by our nursing leaders. Yes, there was an element of choice, but neither option was how we ever imagined our nurse education to come to an end.
As a workforce, we will all need good support, supervision, and chances to offload when this is all over. Scrap that, we should be getting that now but I acknowledge that it is not always possible. But in addition to the needs of the entire nursing workforce, I strongly believe that there needs to be a planned programme of support for these cohorts who have completed their nurse education in or around the time of a global pandemic. There will be loss, there will be grief, there will be guilt, but there will also be pride, innovation, and passion. As well as support us, please listen to us, guide us, and encourage us.
There is no denying that at the core of nursing is our patients. However, we also need to place our workforce there too. With the focus of this particular blog being on our new registrants there is a particular need to nurture them yet simultaneously we must allow them to be innovative and collaborate across hierarchies. These cohorts need to know that their opinion, their voice, matters.
While I personally navigate my change in status from expert student to novice nurse, I will continue to advocate for my peers and colleagues. The voice of newly registered staff is not heard enough at a Trust level, System level, or national level. My wish for this to change is not a lone one, and I’m grateful to be working alongside such incredible newly registered practitioners within RCNNQN.