It’s important that I write this blog in the right way so that part of the truth can be known, but I also need to be professional to avoid any breaches in confidentiality. Therefore I will state only fact and avoid opinions or misrepresentations where possible. Confidentiality will be maintained throughout by using pseudonyms.
I started my +++ nursing placement after finishing my previous one with all A stars and an invitation to represent my university in London, the idea of which was pushed by the dean of my university.
‘How am I doing on this placement?’ I had asked three separate member of staff once I’d started.
‘You’re doing really well!’ They’d all said, but they’d been avoiding giving me any kind of responsibility and often asked me to just play with the patients. The same staff then sneakily told my mentor a different story. I was also told on a number of occasions that “today won’t be a learning day Mikey, we’re very busy’.
After three weeks of being ignored, ostracised and criticised for having a brain injury with comments like ‘it might not be normal that you’re so obsessed with nursing. Have you seen a psychiatrist?’ or ‘You struggle a lot with concentration don’t you? You talked to that parent for too long’.
I was ignored daily and given menial jobs to ‘keep me occupied’
I finally got a chance to have a meeting with my mentor. We sat down and she said:
‘Mikey, staff have raised concerns about your ability to be a nurse’.
I could have guessed this was where they were going with their behaviour towards me
So I thanked her for her time and left, telling her I would not be back. Well, I wouldn’t come back as a student nurse anyway.
The following 6 months…
..I spent sat around at home watching my other colleagues finish their degrees, now severely doubting my ability to be a nurse. The university had to take the allegations seriously, so they sent me to the most cognitively draining type of nursing there is to see whether the allegations were justified.
September 2016 – present day
For time efficiency I will just be honest about the feedback I have received on this next placement where I will be scrutinised, a placement where nobody knows I have a severe head injury.
- ‘Mikey’, one of my mentors said, ‘you’re amazing at building rapport with parents you know’.
- ‘After I told the matron you wanted to work on ward X when you qualify, she told me that you’re so good can’t you persuade him to stay?’
- ‘Daisy was raving about you, she told me ‘thank god Mikey was working when we had the clinic he was so good”
- ‘I know you’ll finish your degree when everyone else has already applied for a job, but I can sort something out for you if you want to come back to us here’
- ‘You’re doing so well, everyone seems to know you here’
- ‘I don’t usually like students doing these jobs for me but I know I can just leave you to get on with it. You’re such a hard worker’.
No one can ever know the hurt my experience back in June caused me. And then, stepping onto such a specialised unit, knowing that my university would be waiting to see me fail at the technical side of the job whilst battling (and now hiding) my symptoms, was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. But I also learned to find peace within the storm again.
I have no anger towards anyone. But I have learned that although nobody should be defined by their health status, there will always be some form of bias/discrimination (unconscious or not) inherent in society. I live with this every day, I understand and empathise with it.
Drop the emphasis on the importance of how you are perceived by others, put your head down and know the truth, don’t let others try to sway your inner being.
I wrote recently that I know I can be a nurse, I don’t have to believe in it. I’ve suffered appalling treatment and felt so much pain from chasing this dream for the past 6 years.
But just like the fitness to practice panel, I knew the truth when nobody else did and everyone doubted my story and I know the truth now.
Doubt me or not, I don’t care. But manipulate and try to derail my journey with untruths at your risk, because the truth always stands strong after the dust has settled, and I’ll be standing right next to it, and I’m not scared of making sure everyone can see us both.