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After receiving an email about the opportunity to attend the annual Florence Nightingale Commemoration Service in London, with a ceremony in Westminster Abbey, I was quick to send my email explaining why I wanted to go. Nursing is a career that requires strong voices, strong minds and openness to change, as Florence quoted, “how very little can be done under the spirit of fear.” Florence Nightingale was a social reformer; she did not conform to the set ways and created modern day nursing.

I won’t turn what potentially appeared to be quite an interesting blog post into an itinerary, but I do want to briefly explain what the day entailed (and if you’re reading this as a student nurse go next year!).

The event was held on the 17th May, close to Florence’s birthday (which if you weren’t sure is international nurses’ day, 12th May).  It involved morning discussions and questions between student nurses and midwives across the country with an experienced panel of nurses from various clinical backgrounds. The discussion involved themes such as the current education and the future potential, clinical leadership and research. The experience of networking with other student nurses around subjects such as our training was really interesting. We had a fancy buffet lunch with small finger food, (so naturally my plate was piled high with a love for party bites) and then proceeded to visit the Nightingale museum and Chapel in St Thomas’ Hospital. After this, we visited the Westminster Abbey and awaited the ceremony (including Jane Cummings, Sir Robert Francis and Princess Alexandra).

The whole event was ran by the Florence Nightingale Foundation, with co-ordinators such as the Chief Executive, Ursula Ward and Vice President Geoffrey Walker, who honestly did inspire me (even getting goose bumps a couple of times). The discussions about nurses needing to be the patient’s advocate, be strong and speak up left me feeling energised to be entering into this workforce and contributing positively to so many lives.

There are countless challenges that nurses can face, especially newly qualified but that is no reason to be entering such a rewarding career, downhearted and deflated; nursing requires leaders that recognise the core values and remain on the ‘factory floor’, as I have once heard it named. Leadership throughout the health care organisation is what we need, to improve confidence, relationships and communication. Nurses know how to care for the patients, we know how to be compassionate, empathetic and build rapport, so why shouldn’t we lead with example.

Involved in the service was the passing of the lamp, with the beautiful symbol of transferring of knowledge. I remembered this and then remembered all the great mentors I’ve worked with, the nurses you look at and think I wanna be just as good a nurse as you! Sharing knowledge is an incredibly important element of nursing; we are forever learning and forever improving.

The ceremony at Westminster Abbey left me feeling proud, as a student, as a woman and as an individual who in a couple of months will be able to call herself a registered nurse.

Yes I am a nurse. Yes I will be looking after you today. Yes this is my uniform. No I don’t know everything, but yes I am willing to learn and improve. Someday I want to be the nurse that students look to for advice, and knowledge and as a role model… like how Florence Nightingale has been for so many nurses and will continue to be, in the future of nursing!

By Dani Tirel – BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing

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