Students Day Blog Series

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Martha Evans

Exactly one month on from the Florence Nightingale Foundation Student’s Day and I have finally sat down to write this piece – placement, assignments and living is a tricky combination at times! I’m trying to find a word to summarise the day itself and many spring to mind – incredible, inspiring and even enlightening – but the word I consistently come back to, is affirming. My passion to study nursing was affirmed and the path I want my career to take, was affirmed.

During the panel presentation and subsequent Q&A, I was glad of the gorgeous FNF notebooks we were given to take notes, because the advice offered was as abundant as it was varied. Hearing from leaders representing every corner of the nursing world affirmed that I could be them one day, and that it is possible to find your fit, because nursing is so diverse. At the time, I was on a health visiting placement and knew I wanted to pursue this following qualification; but it needs research and resourcing. To be able to ask for practical advice around challenging practice was my biggest takeaway from the session. I have some previous experience in a political leadership role, as a students’ union sabbatical officer, but I was struggling to apply these skills in nursing; I feel affirmed that I can do this now, and have contacts to ask for help!

The Florence Nightingale Museum was, I didn’t realise, on the same campus as my host placement trust. As I was due to take part in the procession, I didn’t get as long to explore as I would’ve hoped but I knew I would be going back, and taking my coursemates. In addition, I was dressed in my student nurse uniform which contrasted starkly to that of Florence Nightingale, who was there! Picture 1 shows me with Florence Nightingale and another KCL student, Rhiannon Doyle. Picture 2 shows me with a replica of Florence Nightingale’s lamp, although it didn’t look how I expected.

But the day’s biggest highlight for me was the service at Westminster Abbey. Picture 3 was taken prior to the service and sent to nearly everyone I know. To be surrounded by nurses from all over the UK and to be in the first ‘normal’ service since the start of the pandemic, was altogether slightly overwhelming, but affirming nonetheless! As someone who worked on the Covid-19 frontline as a healthcare assistant, I was touched to witness the Covid-19 Pandemic Roll of Honour, and was honoured to be there.

The service also held a personal meaning for me too. My aunt, also my Godmother, was a nurse for 35 years and her mother (my Grandmother) was an auxiliary nurse during the war; nursing is very important in our family. I am even on placement at the same hospital that my aunt trained at, and I live 30 metres away from her old nurses home. I hadn’t realised ahead of the day that the service would be live streamed and it was a wonderful phone call to both of them to explain how they could watch it. In addition, my other Grandmother had unfortunately been taken into hospital with bronchopneumonia the evening before. The kindness of the nursing profession was yet again highlighted as the nurses caring for her arranged the livestream for her to see.