This wonderful article was published in Nursing Times OPINION:
In stressful times it’s important to remember how many lives nurses transform
If you had the chance to reunite with a patient after 10 years to see the difference you had made to their life, would you do it?
This was an opportunity given to a mental health nurse, after Nursing Times helped facilitate an emotional reunion with a former patient last year.
Hope Virgo contacted us because she wanted to shine a light on the “massive contribution” a nurse had made to her recovery journey.
When Ms Virgo was 17, she was admitted to a mental health unit in Bristol with severe anorexia. She said the support of a particular nurse, Mandy Robinson, helped save her life and gave her the skills to stay well more than a decade later.
“It got me thinking about how often nurses see the longer-term impact of the care and support they provide”
When I met the pair, it was a real joy to see how excited they both were to meet again after so many years.
It got me thinking about how often nurses see the longer-term impact of the care and support they provide.
How often do you reunite with your patients? Is this something you would want to do?
I know that for Ms Robinson, this was a rare occasion but one that she thoroughly enjoyed.
In a video created by Nursing Times, Ms Robinson said: “As a nurse – and I’ve done this job for 30 years now – I think we rarely see the kind of longer-term outcomes of how people have done.”
She said it had been “lovely” to see Ms Virgo and to know that she had made “a little contribution” to who she was now.
In response, Ms Virgo assured Ms Robinson that she had in fact made a “massive contribution”.
Ms Virgo said: “I think quite often we don’t realise that, and obviously at the time we just take you all for granted, but all the stuff that you taught me in hospital I now use all of that stuff to help me stay well.”
Observing their interaction from behind the camera I could see what Ms Virgo’s words meant to her former nurse: she was completely made up and overwhelmed.
Together they looked back on Ms Virgo’s time as an inpatient and talked about how they used to go out on runs around the hospital.
Ms Virgo told how Ms Robinson had helped her to understand how to exercise in a positive way and that it did not have to be something that was “obsessional”.
“It is vital to look back and reflect on the positives and remind yourselves of the life-changing work you do for so many people”
After the story went online earlier this week, Ms Virgo posted a link on social media site Twitter and wrote: “If you ever doubt yourself as a nurse watch this and realise the long-term impact you are having.”
At a time when the nursing workforce is under severe – and escalating – pressure, it is vital to look back and reflect on the positives and remind yourselves of the life-changing work you do for so many people.
During International Year of the Nurse and Midwife it seems more than appropriate to be shouting about the difference you are all are making.