Becoming a Nurse: A Second-Generation Immigrant
6 December 2021 | Mona Mohamud
My parents came to England in the 1990s due to a civil war that led to the collapse of Somalia’s then government. In the turmoil, my parents set up a base in London, where my mother pursued a career as a health care worker in one of London’s most ethnically diverse boroughs. She spent her years training and perfecting her role and became in my household what we call ‘the ultimate caregiver’. She is the reason for my inspiration to become a nurse and help those in need. Sometimes it’s not about how fortunate people are but about aspiring to be more.
After years of working as a care coordinator and NHS 111 health advisor, I choose to plunge into the world of nursing in 2019. Covid-19 was a distant discussion across the ocean and I was placed at the London North West Trust which immediately became overwhelmed with patients during the pandemic. The sink or swim mentality kicked in and at this point, I knew I had a lot of people relying on me. Having a bilingual background, I was able to help older patients that did not speak English. Simple tasks such as taking their food orders and reading the newspaper helped them feel cared for and heard.
The most eye-opening placement had to be with the Hounslow Integrated Community Rapid Response Service. A multi-disciplinary team of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurses and doctors that tackle a wide range of needs within the community. I was able to see medical and holistic care unlike that of the hospital which gave me an insight into Public Health nursing.
I was paired with an amazing Matron who guided me in providing care at home and her approach was tailored to the different patients in our care. Extra care and attention were paid to each individual patient to ensure they felt safe and cared for by always making sure that they had a fresh cup of tea when we left. This approach to nursing and the attention given to patients as individuals sparked the type of nurse I wanted to become. Having a role model as your practice assessor who teaches by example creates a well-rounded healthcare professional (Dake and Taylor, 1994).
Whilst on a study break, I discovered Inclusion Health through the London Network of Nurses and Midwives Homelessness Group event for students. The work on homeless health by organisations such as Groundswell and Turning Point opened a whole new outlook on nursing. Since that day, I have been at every meeting and course with Fairhealth and Homeless Link to improve my understanding with respect to being a better nurse and explore the different directions my nursing career can take.
Now that I am currently undertaking my final year as a student nurse, it is my hope that many others take that plunge into nursing and help make a more ethnically diverse force for good. The pandemic and my placements have taught me that every day comes with its own unique challenges and opportunities. Sometimes it is the smallest things that make the biggest difference; from providing a cup of tea to handing an insulin pen to a self-administering visually impaired individual with diabetes. All these things give me a sense of pride, accomplishment and a smile knowing I am making a difference, even if sometimes I am only one metre away.