I’m the first registered nurse in my family, in fact I’m the first clinical professional full stop, so there were no external influences in my choice to follow this career path. By the time I finished school, I’d already lived in three Countries and been exposed to three languages, four if you count French at school. As a young person I had the privilege of exposure to diverse cultures, heritage and languages. The richness of that learning and experience cannot be underestimated. But for all the cultural differences I was also exposed indirectly to the effects of war, poverty and disease.
Seeing children with malnutrition staring at you and being powerless to affect change or entering a closed refugee camp where families were interned are life changing experiences. It’s hardly surprising then, that my choice of career in nursing was made. Through my career in nursing I’ve worked in the UK and abroad, have been regularly challenged by cultural differences, languages, health beliefs and deprivation both at home and abroad and still the sense of wanting to help in people’s lives prevails. As my career has progressed I recognised for me it’s no longer just about nursing but also social justice, the circumstances that some people are dealt in the lottery of life and how to enable people to make changes in their lives.
In many respects a career in nursing transcends individual Countries barriers, we are united by a common goal of holistic healthcare, wellbeing and population health no matter our circumstances or language. The research we use is truly international drawn from the four corners of the globe. Institutions such as the national unions, the International Council of Nursing and campaigns such as #NursingNow are vitally important to highlight the profile, expertise but also the shortage of nursing across the world.
How then in the face of such challenges can we not join with our colleagues across the world to support a global nursing perspective and goal of health improvement.
Ellen Nicholson is a Primary Care Nurse Lecturer