We chat to Joanne Newton, who works as an agency nurse in Pitlochry, Scotland, to hear first-hand what originally drew her to the industry, and what has kept her there for nearly 15 years.
The spice of life
Something that I adore about my job is that no two days are the same; in fact, I’d go so far as to say that no two hours are even remotely alike. This is, I think, true of many healthcare jobs, not just those of us in agency work. I never know what my day has in store and each and every day I’ll deal with people from all walks of life, and I love that. Don’t get me wrong, there’s admin to do and paperwork to file – it’s not all like a scene from ER – but the unpredictable nature of my job keeps me on my toes and keeps me feeling engaged, energised and motivated.
What itchy feet?!
I knew from a young age that a 9-5 desk job wouldn’t be for me. I’ve always been quite high-energy and didn’t fare well sitting in a classroom for hours on end when I was at school. I prefer being on my feet and love interacting with people constantly. I’m never counting down the hours to the end of a shift, either – if anything I catch a glimpse of the clock and wonder how on earth seven hours have passed since I started a shift.
"I can’t think of many other careers that allow this degree of flexibility. It’s just one of the many reasons I adore what I do"
As well as my day job, I’m a mother to two under two, and I have a ten-year-old stepson, or ‘bonus child’ as I like to call him. This means that my needs and requirements have shifted a lot in recent years, and that my husband and I have to work as a pretty tight unit to make sure all bases are covered on a day-to-day basis. As a result, 9-5 just wouldn’t work for me – instead, my hubby has taken on that mantel and I work night shifts three days a week. Yes, it means that the time we have together is limited, but this approach works for us right now, which is all that matters to us. And the key words there are ‘right now’ – when the kids are at school or even nursery, I might go back to day shifts and we might have something that resembles a normal relationship again. I can’t think of many other careers that allow this degree of flexibility. It’s just one of the many reasons I adore what I do.
I don’t mean for this to sound quite as morbid as it might, but it’s somewhat comforting to know that no matter what’s happening to the country economically or politically, nursing staff are always going to be in demand. We’re an aging population, too – people are living longer than ever before – and that means that our health and physical needs are only going to become greater. What’s more, the robots aren’t coming for my job, that’s for sure! There’s so much empathy and emotional intelligence needed to do what we do. Everyday we have to relate to people, meet them where they are metaphorically speaking and take charge of the situation. Show me a machine that could do that!
Truthfully, I don’t know a single person in this field whose primary reason isn’t the warm, fuzzy feeling that we get every single day. Yes, it’s a difficult job mentally, physically and emotionally, but it’s such a heart-warming one. The gratitude that you get from patients and relatives alike is, in my mind, incomparable.
"The robots aren’t coming for my job, that’s for sure! There’s so much empathy and emotional intelligence needed to do what we do. Everyday we have to relate to people, meet them where they are metaphorically speaking and take charge of the situation. Show me a machine that could do that!"
Team work makes the dream work
Finally, but crucially, it’s the people I work with that make going to work, even in the middle of the night, such a pleasure. We’re all so like-minded and yet so different. We all have distinct skillsets but are driven by a common goal – to help people and enable their mental and physical well-being. That unity keeps me going even on the toughest of days.