I’ve only been a nurse for 11 months, and I’ve already contemplated leaving the profession, despite receiving numerous comments about how amazing the care I give to patients.
Nursing is no longer a vocation done out of love. Nursing is a degree that we have to undertake in a university for 3 years typically. We have to undertake 2,300 unpaid hours of learning, perfecting the basics of nursing care. For our labour, we received a certificate and an email inviting us to spend £120 on a pin number to enable us to work off an £80,000 student debt.
I wake up on 10-year-old pillows that I can’t afford to replace. In a house that has no carpet or been decorated since we moved in 6 years ago as I can’t afford to decorate nor have the time working 48-60 hour weeks every week trying to make ends meet.
I have to travel to work every day, costing £10 a day. That’s in an old diesel car because I have no disposable income to save for a more economical car. Because the ward is so short-staffed, I’m then spending extra money doing overtime (and having to take that fuel money out of this week’s budget leading to less money for bills). My car is falling apart and needs lots of work!
I have to buy new shoes every 3/4 months because I have hypermobility and walk on the sides of my feet. I’m walking an average of 5.2 miles a day on the wards, sometimes ending up on the floor with the kids to do their observations or convince them to take the disgusting medicine. The soles of my shoes rub out and ruin the insides leading to athlete’s foot.
I spend my breaks on the phone to debt companies pleading for a repayment plan for bills I haven’t paid, having to reel out all my income and expenditure for them to tell me I have no extra income, which usually takes up my break.
I spend days waiting until 14:30, and the direct debits have bounced so that I can buy that day’s dinner.
That’s all without juggling patients and providing the care they deserve, with staff-to-patient ratios stretched and the stress that comes either being a nurse. I often go to my car and cry. It’s been 11 months, and I’m already wondering why I bother.
I haven’t even gone into the impact on my mental health, as the breadwinner on a band 5 staff nurse wage with a first-class degree, and I’m reduced to tears most days.