Posted Wednesday 21 November 2012
A nursing student from Kingston University and St George's, University of London has been so inspired by her chosen career that she has put pen to paper - and fingers to keyboard - to record her passion for the profession she loves. Laura Carter has become a prolific blogger during her time at university, writing weekly posts about life as a student nurse for Britain's Nurses. She has even had a number of articles published by leading healthcare magazine the Nursing Times.
As a youngster, Laura was adamant she would not follow her mother on to the hospital ward but, by the time she was 17, realised nursing was in her blood. "I used to be horrified when people asked me if I wanted to be a nurse like my Mum," the 21 year old from Croydon confessed. "But, after finishing secondary school, I got a job at the hospital where she worked and was surprised how much I enjoyed it."
Laura's work as a healthcare assistant on a diabetic ward at Croydon University Hospital sparked a passion for caring for patients she was unable to shake. When the hospital offered her a secondment to study nursing at the Faculty of Health and Social Care Sciences, run jointly by Kingston University and St George's, University of London, she knew the opportunity was too good to miss.
Having seen her mother Helen work in the profession for 25 years, Laura was not under any illusions about how challenging it would be. "I love what I do and I firmly believe I can be a good nurse, but there have been times when I've found myself questioning whether I can take on such a demanding role," she said. "It's sometimes easy to become disheartened when all we ever seem to hear about are pay freezes, pension cuts and poor care. It's at these times I like to remember the patients who have helped me more than I could have ever helped them."
Many of the patients she has encountered along the way have left a lasting impression on Laura. She still vividly remembers caring for a lady with dementia during one of her university placements at Kingston Hospital. Despite the challenges involved, Laura found once she had the chance to spend some time with her, the patient was very appreciative of the care she was receiving. Her daughter even told Laura she was one of the most caring nurses she had ever met - a compliment Laura has treasured ever since.
"My Grandma had Alzheimer's and passed away in hospital a couple of years ago," the trainee nurse, who is mid way through the final year of her diploma in adult nursing, said. "When I started my nursing training the best advice my Mum gave me was to treat every patient like I would treat Grandma - to see the person, not the condition." Although it sounded obvious, it was important for healthcare professionals to take the time to remember every patient was somebody's loved one - their mother or father, grandparent or child, Laura added.
While studying at Kingston and St George's, Laura has worked in a number of hospital departments. Her first placement was in Outpatients at Croydon Hospital - the place where she was born. In an uncanny coincidence, Laura discovered her mentor Keren Hidalgo had known her even before she made her way into the world. As a young nurse, Ms Hidalgo had worked with Laura's mother Helen when she was pregnant with Laura.
Laura described her mum, a diabetic specialist nurse at Croydon, as her inspiration. "Mum loves helping people, she can't say no to anyone - and I think I'm the same. On the odd occasion when I've questioned my career path, Mum has helped me remember what I love about this job."
When she graduates Laura hopes to get a job in the acute sector as she finds it particularly rewarding to see patients who are very sick get better and, ultimately, go home. Eventually she hopes to move into accident and emergency - the area of care she has enjoyed most during her student placements.
"I became a nurse because there is something profoundly wonderful in helping people when they're at their most vulnerable," Laura said. "It's a real privilege to care for somebody and make a difference to their life." Being able to share this love of nursing through her writing had been an unexpected pleasure, Laura added. "When I was younger I wanted to be a journalist for a little while, so blogging for the website Britain's Nurses and being published in the Nursing Times has been a dream come true," she said.
Karen Elcock, head of pre-registration nursing at Kingston University and St George's, University of London, is proud of the way Laura has raised the profile of the work of student nurses in the press. "Laura's writing conveys her determination to always strive to provide excellent care for her patients. She's a fantastic role model and a great ambassador for the nursing profession," Mrs Elcock said.