Nurses’ Day 2018 – Oliver’s Story #ThisNurse

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As a “bisexual and gender-neutral person of colour”, Oliver knew what it was like to feel isolated. Here, Oliver writes about the inclusivity and compassion of the nursing community to mark Nurses’ Day 2018 #ThisNurse

In 2016, I made my first steps towards becoming an adult nurse. I travelled from my home in north Birmingham to the South Campus of Birmingham City University. I was in that state of quiet panic that is like being in the eye of the storm.

Just under a year earlier, I was moving out of my flat in Glasgow after giving in my documents to finalise leaving my Neuroscience course at Glasgow University. I had no idea what future lay in front of me, but I knew I was stepping off a path that I was not happy with.

What I wanted out of university was to know that there was an end goal, a purpose to work towards that I would find aspiration and fulfilment. I knew it was a lot to ask for, but I was prepared to overcome as many challenges as necessary to get there.

Oliver's journey to becoming an adult nurse began back in 2016.

Oliver’s journey to becoming an adult nurse began back in 2016.

The starting point of discovering where I wanted to go with my career was listing what important principles and values I follow. I wanted to help people, which sounds cliché but there was a deep-set ambition to see a difference made by my actions. This led to thoughts on what would define my actions, and I reflected heavily on being practical and present in my work.

From these reflections, I centred my aspirations around being a compassionate and hands-on member of the community that was dedicated to working for the greater benefit of society. The final aspect I added to this was my strong desire to be part of a dynamic and supportive team, and this was when I realised I had been circling around an answer for a long time.

Flashing forward to that moment of quiet panic that I mentioned earlier; I thought about all the wrong things. I dropped out of university once, what would happen if this ends the same way? What if I freeze when I am placed in a hospital setting?

The simulation mannequins in our innovative nursing practice area "SPACE".

The simulation mannequins in our innovative nursing practice area “SPACE”.

I look back now, and I sympathise with my past self, but I was overthinking it. In fact, I was being completely irrational. I knew I was going to make it work because I was already in love with the nursing profession before I started, and I had the skills and learning capacity from my earlier experiences in volunteering and life’s general chaos to adapt to new environments.

There has been a constant renewal of my earliest motivation to help people, and it always revolved around assisting vulnerable people in our society that struggle to find a voice and reach out. As a bisexual and gender-neutral person of colour, I understand what it’s like to feel isolated; so now I am open and active in conversations about how to improve the way in which we care and engage with people from all communities.

"Being part of the adult nursing course at Birmingham City University has been an incredible ride."

“Being part of the adult nursing course at Birmingham City University has been an incredible ride.”

Each of our placements last around 2 months, and in all of them the most fulfilling aspect has been working with and for the immensely diverse community in Birmingham. There have been moments where I felt like a fish out of water, and others where I felt almost swept over by the flow of work. These moments for me are balanced by so many others where my skills as a problem-solver and an empathetic listener were affirmed. A new sense of self-compassion paired with enthusiastically self-identifying as a nursing nerd has changed the way I look at challenges within the working day, both in my professional and personal life. As an extra added bonus, I say with pride and gratitude that while on these placements I was made to feel a part of the team in each one.

Nursing as a profession is heavily reliant on open conversation, and if I am asked about my gender, I tell people I do not identify as a male or a female. I am biologically male, and in practice I have no problem with being perceived that way when I am in my uniform in the role of a professional. And so far, this has been and gone without any issue; positive conversations that are either short or long but do not stray into intrusiveness are what characterise the experiences I have had talking about my gender identity, sexuality, and ethnicity. The degree of compassion and team co-ordination in nursing is outstanding, and part of that is a shared belief in creating a safe and supportive environment for all.

Students in SPACE have access to state of the art equipment including Sim Man, Paediatric Hal, iSimulate and teaching aids including a range of anatomical models.

Students in SPACE have access to state of the art equipment including Sim Man, Paediatric Hal, iSimulate and teaching aids including a range of anatomical models.

Sufficient hints have been dropped about professional progression that I now own something that I never have even conceived of having before now; genuine ambition. I still have over a year to go before I am qualified, and whereas before I was terrified of this concept, I am currently eagerly posed to take advantage of every opportunity related to achieving this goal.

Being part of the Adult Nursing course at Birmingham City University has been an incredible ride; involvement in a research project, talking to students and their families at Open Days, being chosen to work as a cultural ambassador and helping to build a strong university community.

My mind is overflowing with ideas and plans that are short and long term, and this kind of free-flowing optimism and excitement is a reward for simply being part of something that I respect and cherish.


If you are interested in studying Adult, Child, Mental Health or Learning Disability Nursing at Birmingham City University just click here.

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