Stirling student nurse features in inspirational new book

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University of Stirling campus

A student nurse’s poignant reflection on her first day on placement features in an inspirational new book published by a Scottish charity.

‘Humans of Scotland’ – created by the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland – contains a selection of stories that have captured the hearts of people across the country. They include personal pieces on the struggles of living with illness, disabilities and as an unpaid carer.

Nicola Phillips, a first-year nursing student at the University of Stirling, has written one of the stories included in the book, entitled ‘Placement Day One’. The short piece reflects on both the excitement and anxiety experienced in the lead up to – and during – her first day working as a nurse.

Nicola said: “It has been an absolute pleasure and privilege to be a part of such a fantastic book full of inspirational stories, thank you to Alliance for including me.”

The honest account provides a narrative of Nicola’s first day on placement – from the moment she wakes up “nervous” and puts on her uniform, to meeting her mentor for the first time and helping patients with their morning routines.

She writes: “Placement day is approaching; the day we go out to learn and be a part of this wonderful career we have set our minds to. We know why we are doing it, we have told many why, but we know until we do it, we will wonder: ‘Am I good enough?’.”

She continues: “As I am helping them [the patients] in a shower or brush their teeth – sharing their most personal and venerable moments – I am hoping that I am good enough.”

The story concludes: “This is not anymore about the lecture theatre, or the uniform, or any of those things that mattered up to that moment. It’s not about me, or if I’m good enough. It’s about that person sitting in that bed or chair; it’s about whether I can make even just a moment of their life more dignified.

“I don’t need a smile back, I need to keep smiling at them; I need them to know I want to be there because now I know it’s not about if I think I am good enough – now I know I will do everything I can to make sure I am good enough for them.”

Nicola Phillips

Student nurse Nicola Phillips contributed to the new book.

The book – which includes a foreword from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – provides an important insight into the lives of people recovering from mental illness, addiction and cancer, to those with hearing or sight loss, and crippling arthritis. Notably, it includes a heartfelt contribution from former Scotland international rugby player Doddie Weir, speaking candidly on his experience living with Motor Neurone Disease.

Professor Ian Welsh OBE, Chief Executive of the Alliance, said: “Living with a long term health condition, disability or as an unpaid carer presents challenges that often must be overcome time and time again. It is important to us to highlight these issues as an organisation that champions the voice of people with these experiences. In sharing their stories, the contributors to ‘Humans of Scotland’ have played a vital part in growing our understanding of what it means to face and cope with adversity.”

In her foreword, Nicola Sturgeon says: “In reading this collection, I was touched by the candid nature of the different pieces. By sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings, each contributor has demonstrated a huge amount of bravery – as well as great generosity. They’ve given us a valuable insight into lives and experiences we might never know.”

The book was launched at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh and is now available for free at various outlets – including public libraries – across the country.

For more information, visit the Alliance webpage.