For our December update we are pleased to introduce Alex Short, one of our first year student nurses, reflecting on his feelings when asked to write a poem about compassion…..
Poetry?! That silly thing my English teacher told me I “just need to learn” when I asked when her “when will I need to actually use this?” That is pretty much the last thing I thought would form part of my nurse education. So, yes, I was initially sceptical, but then I heard the poems written by the rest of my cohort. As I listened to the works of people who I had shared lectures with, I began to understand not just their experiences of Placement but also how it had affected them, not only as a student nurse but also on a more personal level.
However, before I would hear their poems I had to write my own. I picked up my pen and stared at a blank piece of paper, nothing happened, the paper stared back at me and nothing, tortuously, continued to happen. This was not going to be easy. I sought advice from my friends. Some of them were struggling but others had produced really engaging poems. Chris had written his rather good poem “on the bus”. I decided to knuckle down and just get it done and out of the way.
I knuckled down, and I tried, I really did. I found an experience from placement and attempted to extract it from my brain and put it down onto the paper. When I read it back the idea was there but the words were clumsy. Fine, good enough, it’ll do and after all, I don’t want to be a ruddy poet I want to be a nurse.
But then at our second session I heard everybody else’s poems. That was what changed my opinion of the exercise: hearing the honest experiences of my peers and, from their poetry, glimpsing a part of the impact those experiences had made on them. They had crafted their poems on a personal level, and it really did shine through, another reminder that nursing is not ‘just a job’ but so much more.
After being enriched by the poems of my peers I decided to try again. It was not any easier the second time around but I persevered and ended up with something that I am actually a little proud of. If my new poem were a cake it would not hold a candle to those on the Great British Bakeoff but it would be my cake, not quite the right shape and bit burnt on top. I would know how that cake was made and, to me, that would be more important than the finished, lumpy, burnt cake itself.
I realise now that the whole poetry exercise has helped me reflect on my practice and understand the reflections of my peers. On a personal level, the act of searching within myself to find words that will fit in the arbitrary constraints of the poem I’m working on help me reflect and it is something I want to continue to do.
Many thanks to Alex for sharing his reflection, and to all of you who have kindly shared your poems with us this year.
Kirsten & Caroline