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International Nurses Day: The North East 'angels' who are at the cutting edge of care

'It's the little things we do that really count."

Nursing in Newcastle is a job for "highly-educated and ambitious" people according to senior staff at Newcastle's hospitals - but they've also highlighted how the smallest kind moments make it extra special.

Speaking to ChronicleLive to mark International Nurses Day, the team of associate directors of nursing (ADNs) at the trust - who lead a range of departments across - highlighted how the profession has changed, but that the fundamentals will always be the same. In the 21st century, the staff made clear that nurses do far more than you might expect.

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Sue Cook, ADN with responsibility for other things such Covid-19 screening and test and trace within Newcastle's hospitals, said: "Nursing isn't about all the exciting things - it's the little things we do that really count. It's that sense of pride when you do what you can for your patients. You might bathe them, do their hair, sit them up in bed so they look and feel as nice and tidy as they can. That's what it's about for me."

But the team in Newcastle also spoke of how - while caring for patients was always central - nursing is full of "incredible and varied opportunities". The trust's executive chief nurse Maurya Cushlow said: "Nurses deal with complexity, they deal with challenging situations and but they are also part of the wider professional team.

Maurya Cushlow (inset) is executive chief nurse at the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust (Newcastle Chronicle / Newcastle Hospitals)

"We are the people who are here all of the time - and we take that responsibility really, really seriously. And in Newcastle we are often dealing with incredibly complicated conditions.

"The nurses are, with the rest of the clinical teams, right at the cutting edge of care. That's the exciting thing for us. Every day is different. No two patients are the same, no two conditions are the same, and no two clinical presentations are the same. This is a career for people who are ambitious and want to develop themselves."

On the theme of professional development, Peter Towns and Anna Telfer added it was important to challenge perceptions of what nurses are and can be. Peter said: "We have all come from very different backgrounds. We all have different expertise and experience. There's so much opportunity - this can be a very long and rewarding career. You can do masters degrees, doctorates."

And Anna added that at a recent event with would-be nurses, she had enjoyed that the take-home message for young people had been about "the diversity of the job".

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Ian Joy, deputy chief nurse, added that the pandemic had brought back into vogue a stereotype of nurses as "angels". He said he wanted people to see past that caricature.

"One thing to get across to dispel the idea that's come back a bit during the pandemic that nurses are just angels. That's one aspect yes," he said, "but our nursing population is highly-educated and they are gatekeepers of quality and safety. Nurses are leading the way to the future in patient care, patient safety and patient experience."

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