I'd do it all again in a heartbeat

Owena Simpson - International Nurses' Day 2017
Nurses Day 2017 - Owena Simpson

"This picture was taken in 1997, I’d been a qualified nurse for four years and was working on the Cardiology Ward at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. I didn’t know at the time that I would stay within the cardiac speciality for most of my nursing career.

I didn’t have a plan. I went into nursing with very little experience and was open to new challenges and ideas. I just wanted a job that was interesting and varied. I was very lucky – the cardiac speciality offered this and more. As a rule, cardiac patients are knowledgeable and involved in their care, and for the most part, the interventions you put in place can have significant outcomes on their healthcare, which makes it very rewarding.

Nursing is a busy, high-pressure job and to know that you are valued by those you care for means a lot. In nursing, it’s the little things that make a difference. Being friendly, making time to talk or listen - even when you are rushed off your feet; doing what you say you will do and not making empty promises. These are so important to patient care.

It’s remembering that being ill and in hospital, or needing nursing care in the community, is a hugely significant and frightening time for most patients. Building an effective nurse-patient relationship is a fundamental aspect of the role and is often what patients remember and value about these difficult times in their lives.

I was one of the last nurses to qualify under the old scheme. Shortly after, they introduced Project 2000 and I remember this was the start of real challenges around staffing and resources. Also, I think, there were wider changes in society that were beginning to have an impact. The days of ‘doctor knows best’ were on the wane, and patients were becoming more informed and involved in their care, which has been a positive change.

I’ve been a nurse for over 25 years and I’ve worked in various roles within the NHS and at the University. The changes that have happened across the NHS during that time have been, and continue to be, extremely challenging.

Nurse education continues to evolve in order to meet the caring needs of patients and the practical elements of the nursing role with the technology and increasing complexities of patient needs. However, if I was to have my time again – would I choose a career in nursing? Definitely yes, as it offers such wide and varied career opportunities.

And if I had to choose the best period of time in my nursing career I would have to say my days on the cardiology ward. If I could go back to this time, and work on this same ward with the same group of people, I would do it in a heartbeat. It was a great time in my life and in nursing. We worked hard and we played hard and this close team spirit translated on to the ward. I enjoyed going to work every day.

For me, nursing has always been about the people you work with and the people you care for. Every day is different, the patients and families make it such a rewarding career and it really is a job like no other."