What IS a nurse?
11 May 2022 | Rob Young
When I ask a nurse, “What is a nurse?”, I don’t get an answer, I get a pause, while they wrestle with the subsequent question, “How do I compress a complex cocktail of care, craft, collaboration and compassionate leadership into one simple phrase? And the answer is, you can’t.
Today’s nurse is a multi-tasking, multi-disciplinarian who works across multiple departments. There are so many ‘multi’s’, that it makes my head spin. I need a nurse! But what is one and how do nurses explain their role in our healthcare?
So, I rephrase my question, paring it down to its absolute root, “How would you describe your job to a six-year-old child?” What would you say?
Here are some other questions I ask staff and students:
- What do your friends and family think you do all day?
- What are the common misconceptions about your job?
- What is healthcare?
- Describe your job in three words
The answers range from the sublime to the remarkable. All are valid and many profound.
Today’s nurse is a multi-tasking, multi-disciplinarian who works across multiple departments. There are so many ‘multi’s’, that it makes my head spin. I need a nurse! But what is one and how do nurses explain their role in our healthcare?Rob Young, writer and artist
These questions are not ones that haunt my dreams or ones that I decided to ask of myself only, but as part of a project for the University of Chester, in which the voices of nurses were amplified, distilled into art and used to bring a seven “story” building to life and help define a nursing identity.
The seed of this idea for an arts-based initiative came from the Dean of Health and Social Care, Professor Angela Simpson. It was co-created and brought to life by The Philip Barker Centre for Creative Learning at Chester and me, Rob Young, a writer and artist who helped the nurses to consider and communicate in a way they felt was warm, welcoming and accessible to all.
The result is a bright, bold environment that takes a fresh look at the myths, misconceptions and Victorian stereotypes that continue to haunt the profession. Working together, we told a new story: perky, positive, pro-active and modern. We called it, “Who We Are and What We Do”.
My favourite answer to the question above was, “A nurse is someone who listens, finds out what is important to a patient, then helps them with it”.
“Our Bachelor of Nursing programme is a dynamic, interactive professional course which places the needs of patients and their families at its centre to meet current and future healthcare demands in all four fields of nursing, including district nursing, health visiting, medical, surgery and critical and intensive care. We work closely with local hospital and community providers to ensure that the course remains contemporary, and our students go out on placements across a large geographical area that includes Wirral, Warrington, Cheshire, Crewe and Shropshire.” – University of Chester