FNF Student Placements: Cyzel Gomes

The team behind the Florence Nightingale Foundation consist of Registered Nurses and other professionals. We are committed to supporting the next generation of nurses and midwives and have been exploring how we can facilitate practice placement experiences with our team. In the coming months we will be sharing more information on #TeamFNF placements, do keep an eye on our webpages and social media accounts for the latest updates.

Cyzel Gomes from the University of Winchester completed the last few weeks of her adult nursing degree with us throughout August. Cyzel had previously spent her elective placement with us in summer 2021 which you can read about here. Do enjoy Cyzel’s reflections on her time with us this summer as she transitions from student to newly registered nurse. You can find Cyzel on Twitter @CyzelG.

Life doesn’t give you two chances to experience some things, such as the FNF experience, especially as a student nurse. I thought I got lucky to be the first student FNF had for elective placements in summer 2021, but I couldn’t have predicted returning to complete my 2,300 hours at FNF. I don’t know if that’s from an old Bollywood saying in Hindi, “कहते हैं अगर किसी चीज़ को दिल से चाहो तोह पूरी कायनात उसे तुमसे मिलाने की कोशिश में लग जाती है” (translated in English to: “It is said that if you want something from your heart, then the whole universe tries to make it happen to you”) or my hard work, dedication and amazing networking skills. Maybe it was all this and more.

This time I have spent around 4 weeks at FNF, and it couldn’t have been at a better time. There are so many changes happening at FNF since my last time here. Last time, I was mainly observing and taking in all the incredible things FNF has to offer. However, these last few weeks, I have learnt so much about me and what I am capable of. That is including challenges and threats that now I am actively working to overcome.

I am a dreamer, and with that comes ambition and not SMART goals. In the last three years of my nursing degree, multiple people have encouraged me and supported me, they have given wise words of advice. However, it isn’t until you get to experience non-clinical placements, you really get an idea of whether you enjoy it or not. Just like I would not know if I like or dislike working in A&E unless I had a placement there. So how can we say to students you can do whatever you like if we are not actively providing student nurses with opportunities to explore all four pillars of nursing. The four pillars are: clinical practice, leadership, education and research. I was lucky to use my elective placement and participate in other extra-curricular activities to get exposure to all four pillars of nursing. Although, I now have an understanding of all that I could do, I don’t think the nursing world is ready to accept early careers nurses in some of these areas of practice.

Due to no fault of others, all this exposure has sometimes left me feeling privileged and guilty, yet very grateful and humbled at the same time. I am re-energised and inspired to follow my dreams when I look back at my non-clinical experiences. I absolutely love my clinical time, but it is difficult to find examples that have left me in awe at my practice. There’s never enough time or staff members, to go that extra mile, the number of times you have to come home and say at least everybody was safe. I have no intentions of ever leaving my clinical practice, at least not anytime soon, but the guilt that creeps in for every time I enjoy being in a non-clinical role. The guilt that maybe I am doing this wrong, that maybe I must not specialize in a specific area, that I am only in my early 20’s and can’t have huge dreams because I haven’t got the life experience and so on. The imposter in me, it waits for opportunities like this to knock me down. I feel like I am nobody even when the someone else may contradict every single feeling with a fact. I have learnt to accept all these feeling, they are valid. Maybe there will come a time I can find ways to support others who share these feelings.

The good part of this experience with FNF is that I know I have done and am doing my best to achieve my dreams. The authentic and compassionate leadership I experience everyday at FNF reminds me; novice nurses like me have got supportive and empowering leaders working towards making the future of nursing brighter. The personal and professional development I have gained from my time here, will strengthen my motivation to achieve the goals in my future. I have learnt that it is important to listen and understand from those before me, to learn from their failures and celebrate their wins. It isn’t all about winning though, it is more important to look back and cherish the inspirational encounters that I have gained.

The not so good part maybe that the next time I do see myself at FNF will be in a few years’ time. This is definitely not the end of my FNF experience but only the beginning of how I can use all that I have learnt here and apply it to make a difference in my nursing practice. There is so much that a NRN brings with them, fresh mindset and ideas and the life experiences which are unique to us all. This change and shift in acknowledging all that somebody brings to the table without the pay bands and titles will take some time. From listening to prospective FNF scholars, it was refreshing to hear them talk positively about the NRN coming into the profession are far more ambitious and knowing what they want in their careers and life. It isn’t all about where someone comes from or is at, it is all about where the person wants to be. I could list all night, all the reasons why we must move away from being hierarchical to inclusive of everyone’s opinions. The reason I want to mention this is because of the current limited regular accessibility to leadership and progression for early career nurses. In my opinion my pay band or job title doesn’t change my motivation and zeal for personal and professional development. As I come closer to losing my official student nurse title, it scares me more of losing all the privileges I have worked so hard over.

 There is so much to think about that has happened in the little time I have had with FNF. It is difficult to pick just one word to describe the time at FNF, however, pedagogical and heuristic are terms that jump to summarise my experience. There wouldn’t have been a better place to end my student nurse journey in my opinion. It is sad that it may be a long time until I get to write and talk about the FNF experience due to the opportunities currently being available to mainly band 6 and above.  I know there will be some brilliant leadership programmes for when I am ready to take the next step on my development journey. One quote that FNF’s Deputy Chief Executive, Professor Gemma Stacey had shared with me during my first placement has been my motivation throughout the last year is: “Leadership doesn’t just mean leading, it means inspiring”. I was not long reminded about the same by another inspirational nurse leader, that “we win in different ways”. I can’t stop reflecting back on the many different wins I have managed because of the networks I have built from being at FNF.

I am leaving FNF as a student today but with a big grateful heart, renewed passion to change the world one day at a time and full bags of brain food. Until next time, Thank You, #TeamFlorence