How to become a nurse

How to become a nurse

This alternative job fits the bill for:

  • Jobs that allow dyed hair

Cookie True describes what it’s like to have a truly caring support system at work, be able to keep your tats/piercings/hairstyle, and what it’s like to deal with cutters and people in a depressed phase of their lives as part of your job. Lots of alternative girls get into being a nurse. Find out if being a nurse might be the alternative job for you.

Name: Cookie True

Career title: Staff Nurse (RMN)

What made you want to go into this profession?

I know it sounds a bit corny but I did / do have a genuine desire to help people. I also get paid for talking and listening to people, which is something I’ve always done anyway. An added bonus was that you get paid while you do your training (you get a bursary, it’s not much but it helps)

Do you need training or work experience?

Yes, the training takes three years. The theory part is based in university and placements are based in hospital / community.

Do stereotypes exist for your job and if so do you think they paint a fair picture?

I suppose general nurses are often portrayed in the media as overworked angels, which may be based in truth. I actually work in mental health, which has it’s own connatations. People do say to me “oh, I couldn’t do your job” and that’s because they assume that mental health patients are violent. Only a tiny minority of patients display violence and aggression towards staff through illness. I work with people with depression, anxiety, schizophrenia as well as people on detox programmes from drugs and alcohol. Mental illness can affect anyone and the chances are you or someone you know will suffer at some point in their life. It does not necessarily make a person violent or aggressive.

What is the most satisfaction you get out of your job? On both a deep and a shallow level? Has the job changed you? What are the perks?

Seeing someone get better or be able to cope independently is always gratifying. On a more shallow level, I’ve finally made my Mum proud of me. I was a bit wild when I was younger and I put my parents through hell. I don’t think anyone thought I’d settle down and get a proper job. I suppose doing this job has made me appreciate what I’ve got as you meet people who’ve been dealt a really crappy hand in life. It makes you realise there’s always someone worse off.

Downside of the job: Paper work and bodily fluids

How physically or mentally demanding is the job? Long hours?

It’s more mentally demanding but I work within a supportive team and luckily I’ve got an understanding partner. I work mainly nights at the moment as it fits in better with childcare arrangements (I’ve got a son who’s nearly three). This means that I can be like a zombie sometimes but you get used to it, sort of.

Most hideous career moment to date?

Serious self harm / suicide is always difficult to deal with, I wouldn’t be human if it didn’t affect me. It’s amazing how staff pull together and support each other at these (thankfully rare) times.

Most glorious career moment to date?

I used to run a carers’ support group and I know that the people involved got a lot out of it. There are so many people out there who care for a loved one without the support or recognition they deserve. I get paid for what I do, but these people often do this day in, day out without much of a break or even thanks. It was nice to be able to give something back, however small.

Do you meet interesting people and if so, who …? Is there a freak-factor?

I get to meet people from all walks of life as no one is immune to mental illness. They have all got a story to tell and a life beyond their illness, the key is reaching the person inside. Luckily I find people fascinating anyway. There can be a freak factor but it’s important to remain professional. That said it’s very important to have a sense of humour as it gets you through. They reckon laughter is the best medicine, after all.

Is there a danger factor?

I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t, you just have to be aware. It’s important to build a therapeutic relationship with a patient by establishing rapport. That way you are able to act on warning signs and successfully de-escalate a situation before it becomes violent. I’ve always said that I’m a lot safer on a mental health ward than I am on a night out or walking through the bus station, where an attack is more likely to be fuelled by alcohol from an unknown attacker. At work I’m generally aware of someone’s history and I have the back up of my colleagues. I’m only 5′ tall and so don’t have much of a physical presence but I’ve never been hurt in the five years I’ve been doing this job.

Do you meet fit, clever, solvent gentlemen in your line of work?

I’ve been happy with my fella for longer than I’ve been doing this, so have never really looked. it has been known for single colleagues to hook up with each other and there’s a definately a social side if you want it. I also come into regular contact with doctors and the police if they do it for you.

Is there a sexy uniform?

Only at home…but that’s another story. You can pretty much wear what you want within reason. You have to be able to work comfortably and be covered up obviously. I don’t feel I have to compromise my style particularly.

Can you still see yourself doing this in 20 years’ time?

Maybe, or something similar. I’ve found it’s only opened doors. I am thinking of working with children and so I’m about to do some voluntary work to test the water.

What advice would you give young women who are interested in this career path?

If you’re friendly and down to earth and tend to be the type who’s an agony aunt to your friends then you could do a lot worse. The training can feel a bit like an endurance test at times but three years isn’t really a massive amount of time in the grand scheme of things, so stick it out.

Is there a question we should have asked you but forgot?

(There probably is… but Cookie True was so fired-up from letting us know the true ins and outs of nursing she forgot to answer this question. Which, we think, says something about Mookychick editors AND Mookychick readers. God bless creativity, drive and occasional bouts of scattiness! – The Mooky Eds)

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