Beth Cropley, Undergraduate QNIS prizewinner for University of Edinburgh tells us why she wants to become a community nurse.
My first experience of community nursing was with a health visiting team in an area of socio-economic deprivation in Edinburgh. I’m sad to admit that I initially went into this placement expecting it to be boring and to be ‘just weighing babies’ all day; however I finished this placement with an ambition to become a health visitor. It did not take me long to work out that community nursing was, in fact, challenging and exciting, with the essential requirement to use your own initiative and to adapt to any surrounding on a daily basis.
As a student nurse, my eyes were opened to the health and social problems faced by many within more deprived communities, and I became aware of the vast health inequalities experienced between different areas. This realisation served to increase my passion and desire to work as a community nurse, supporting individuals, families, and communities to improve health, social, and emotional outcomes. One particular experience of seeing a health visitor work with a young mother and support her with breastfeeding when she wanted to give up showed me the value of community nursing and the impact it can have on improving a person’s health trajectory.
I believe that caring for someone within their own home offers a unique opportunity to provide true person-centred care. A person’s home often tells a story, and from the moment you walk through the door you begin to get a sense of who the person is. As a community nurse, you do not just get to know the person, but also their family, friends, neighbours, pets, paintings, photos, and memories. My favourite part of my pre-registration district nursing placement was the opportunity I had to build relationships with the people I visited. It was a real privilege to be able to get to know them, understand what is important to them, care for them through their ups and downs, and learn their stories.
During my third year at university we received a lecture on ‘Policy in Practice’, and for the first time I was excited about policy and the important impact that it has on community nursing practice. The Scottish Government’s 2020 Vision is ‘for everyone to live longer, healthier lives at home, or in a homely setting.’ I believe that community nursing which has a focus on prevention and anticipatory care is key to achieving this, and it is my aspiration to become a forward thinking community nurse who will continue to work toward reaching this ambitious goal.
This year I was excited and very surprised to be awarded the QNIS Undergraduate Award. Since my very first placement and throughout all my subsequent community placements I have had a real desire to become a community nurse, so it was a great privilege to receive this award and have my enthusiasm for community nursing recognised. It was a huge encouragement to be able to attend the QNIS conference. Particularly as a student about to qualify, it was a very motivating to be surrounded by people who really appreciate the value of community nursing and to hear from speakers who clearly had a real passion for the work they did. I hope very much that one day soon I will be able to attend a QNIS event as a community staff nurse, who works towards reducing health inequalities and offering person-centred care to all people.