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As the dust settles after the initial phase of the coronavirus pandemic we have slightly more time to reflect on what happened and take a breath. However, it seems that this next period is also going to be challenging for the nursing profession.
Social media reflects a feeling of unrest and dissatisfaction among nurses. The government’s announcement of pay increases for some public sector workers and not others appears to have left nurses feeling devalued and, to put it mildly, aggrieved that our efforts have not been seen or valued – apart from weekly rounds of applause.
I also get the feeling that there has been a slight shift in some public opinion, as an article in a national newspaper highlighted. The article was about obesity and the government’s new initiative to promote exercise and healthy eating, with the prime minister leading the way with his daily morning runs.
“We did not ask to be clapped every week, we did not ask for free food or special privileges; we just got stuck in and did our jobs – often at great personal cost”
The journalist commented that it is all very well launching a campaign but maybe nurses need to practise what they preach as many are overweight. Under the article (which I read online) there were comments from readers, some were very negative and quite frankly rude about nurses.
I appreciate that people who have never been in the profession find it difficult to understand what nurses actually do and how frequently we don’t get proper breaks, forcing us to bolt down a sandwich and snack on the thank you chocolates at the nurses’ station to get us through to the end of our shift.
I hope these comments reflect the views of a minority of the public. We did not ask to be clapped every week, we did not ask for free food or special privileges; we just got stuck in and did our jobs – often at great personal cost.
When considering a nursing career money is not the main driving force – for me it was the opportunity to meet lots of different people and help them through a hospital stay. Of course, nursing is much more than that, but those were my initial naive reasons for choosing this career, and I have loved it.
But love for my profession and applause from the public don’t pay the bills and it is unacceptable that nurses are using food banks to feed their families or having to work extra shifts to make ends meet.
In order to get through this period of unrest it is important to remember why we want to do this job, value our colleagues and continue doing what we do best – care for patients.
I hope all the protests and petitions will prompt the government to reflect on what nursing has contributed to the response to Covid-19 and to reconsider its decision on pay.
But while we wait I encourage you to ignore the people who feel the need to be rude about us. Instead, reflect on the positives of nursing and the times the patients you have nursed have expressed their appreciation for what you do.