International Nurses Day: Reflections by Registered Mental Health Nurse, Joanna Burton.

In the lead up to International Nurses Day, we are running a series of stories from our fellow nurses at PCS about their work, current challenges, and what they love about nursing.

This week Joanna Burton, Quality Lead PCMH, reflects on what it means to “feel valued” and what she values personally about her role as a Registered Mental Health nurse.

Joanna Burton, Quality Lead PCMH and Registered Mental Health Nurse.

Feeling Valued

I wonder when you last felt truly valued. With the International Nurses Day being celebrated soon and ‘feeling valued’ being one of the themes I started to ask myself that question? 

Well…recently my teenage son acknowledged that the way I am bringing him up is valued. He needed a bit of a prompt (as is often the theme with teenagers!) but his comments about how I have helped him and his brother become the independent young people they both are made me feel truly valued.

And then I started to think about who or what do I value? Well, I value my friends who are there for me when I need them and I value my colleagues in Primary and Community Mental Health who have made me feel truly welcome since I came to work here a year ago.

I work as Quality Lead for PCMH and truly value my title as a Registered Mental Health Nurse. I am proud of the title; it is a registered title and so only people who have the qualification can use it. America’s first trained nurse, Linda Richards, is often viewed as the first noted psychiatric nurse. In 1899, Richards began training schools in several different hospitals for mental health nurses (Richards, 1915). In the UK, on 22 December 1919, the Nurses Registration Act(s) became law and nurses were given the opportunity to complete an approved training course and apply for the title of registered nurse.  I have been unable to find out when the first Registered Mental Health Nurse was included on any of the UK registers, but I intend to keep looking!

I trained back in the 80’s before the Community Care Act was introduced and most mental health care was provided within large hospital settings. I value the fact I got to experience the transition into more community-based services.   I valued the nurses who went before me, the ones who taught me how to make hospital beds and who helped me to understand that everyone’s needs are different and to respect other people’s values even if they are different to mine.

And I value the people I have had the pleasure to work with over the years and who I work with now. Some may, like me, be able to use a registered nursing title. Some, such as my Expert by Experience colleagues,  may not hold ‘official’ titles but bring their much valued experiences to the professional table,  so we can develop services that are valued by all.

So, during this run-up to International Nurses Day, whether you are a nurse or not, lets value what we each bring to each day and let’s not forget to value those of us we get to share it with.

Happy International Nurses Day everyone!

Joanna Burton, Quality Lead PCMH and proud Registered Mental Health Nurse