Nurses hope to ‘inspire next generation’ with new children’s book

More than 40 nurses and midwives have shared their career journeys and experiences as part of a new children’s book which aims to inspire and encourage the next generation of the profession.

Those contributing to the book told Nursing Times they wanted to showcase what it means to be a nurse, while highlighting the value of the contributions they make as a highly skilled workforce.

“It’s [about] putting out there the value of people and what we do and the contributions we make”

May Parsons

To mark the 75th anniversary of the NHS, the RCN Foundation and Scholastic UK have partnered up to produce the book Dear Nurse: True Stories of Strength, Kindness and Skill.

Hitting the shelves today, for every copy sold, 50p will be donated to the RCN Foundation which offers support to nursing staff throughout their careers.

The book is aimed at children aged eight and above and will feature personal accounts from 44 nurses and midwives.

Elizabeth Varughese, a mental health nurse working in occupational health, told Nursing Times she wanted to be part of the project to help “encourage the new generation” of nurses.

As part of her contribution, she reflected on an incident with one of her patients where there was a “breakthrough” in their treatment.

“Those are very small things when you look at the overall picture, but it means a lot when you’re taking care of that single patient, and that makes a lot of difference,” explained Ms Varughese.

When putting a pen to paper, Ms Varughese described feeling “quite emotional”.

“We are excited to be able to showcase some of their incredible stories”

Deepa Korea

“When you write a story you do have a lot of creative freedom, but this is something that happened,” she said.

“There are times when you walk out from your shift and you’re like ‘this is very difficult’, then days like this come by and you know you are in the right profession.”

May Parsons

Meanwhile, May Parsons, a modern matron for respiratory services who gave the first Covid-19 vaccination outside of a clinical trial setting, also wrote within the book.

She told Nursing Times she wanted to share “insight about the difference in the routes and roads into nursing” and highlight the reasons why nurses want to enter the profession.

“The reasons for being here is that because as nurses, we feel so strongly [and have] the passion to help other people and the nursing profession,” said Ms Parsons.

“I don’t want to sugar-coat it or make people think that nursing is a bed of roses, because it isn’t – it’s not the easiest job in the world.

“But I also want them to know that actually, the nurses are here, they’re passionate about nursing, [and] it’s because of the intrinsic want to give back to the community [and] to look after our people… and to realize that actually the daily things that we do impact so many people in ways that we would never imagine.”

While hoping to inspire others to join the profession, part of her motivation for sharing her story was to also help children understand the value of nurses, especially at a difficult time for the workforce, she said.

“It’s [about] putting out there the value of people and what we do and the contributions we make,” added Ms Parsons, who said she also wanted to get across to children that there was more to the job than “bedside nursing”.

Rohit Sagoo

Rohit Sagoo, a children’s nurse by background and founder of the British Sikh Nurses group, said he wanted to contribute to the book to help break glass ceilings around being a nurse who was South Asian and a male.

He shared his experiences of working with children, particularly as a student nurse, and reflected on both the highs and lows of children’s nursing.

In writing his part, he said it made him reflect on his own career and the choices he had made.

He also described thinking about children who had died during his career, as well as the “joy” of nursing and working with children.

Mr Sagoo had written one sentence for the book which said: “Over the last 20 years, I’ve cared for a lot of children, those that have come into hospital for a day, those who have stayed a while, and those who have left us for the heavens.”

“That really chokes me,” he said. “The career experiences that you go through, in terms of what you’ve done for children and how you really make some rapport and trust with children as well.”

Meanwhile, Deepa Korea, director of the RCN Foundation, said: “Nursing and midwifery staff play an invaluable role in keeping the public safe and well.

“We are excited to be able to showcase some of their incredible stories and hope that this book will perhaps encourage young readers to consider a career in these professions.”

She added that the donations raised through book sales would “help ensure that we are able to support nursing and midwifery professionals when they need us”.

Dear Nurse is illustrated throughout by the two-time Kate Greenaway Medal winner artist, Michael Foreman.

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