Today I had a really brilliant experience. I’m currently working as a locum community psychiatric nurse as part of the NHS team close to my home. It’s a trust I worked for before. In fact I spent several years as a permanent staff member on the wards and in the community early in my career. That’s the background to this story.

Back in 1999 I was working as an E grade staff nurse (remember those?) on a psychiatric acute ward. At that time we had a fresh-faced 18 year old student who clearly had potential. In fact she was one of those students whom you just ‘know’ will go far. She had ‘talent’.

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But she had an issue to resolve. I won’t go into details except to say that I worried that (through no fault of her own) she may become disillusioned and abandon her training. I did what I could to help but I couldn’t be sure that it was enough – though I certainly did my best. You see nursing is a family and like all families we really should look after our young.

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Eventually she moved on from the ward as all students must. Nurse training involves many clinical placements. She went to another ward and I never saw here again. Until….

Today, 15 years later, I had occasion to request help from another nursing team. I needed a specialist. Guess who that specialist was….

The slightly hesitant 18 year old student is now a confident, competent and compassionate professional. Far from losing heart and leaving this wonderful profession she has blossomed into the fine mental health nurse we all knew she could become. I know this because I got to see her work first hand.

And best of all – she had a student of her own in tow.

The nursing family works best when we look after our young.

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