On May 12th the UK will mark not only the anniversary of the birth of history’s most famous nurse, Florence Nightingale but also International Nurses Day. This event is celebrated around the world every year. 


This means Tuesday will be an opportunity to mark the wonderful work nurses do and take time out to talk to people on the frontline of healthcare about why nursing is so important. 


There is a wide choice of routes to train for and get into the profession, with the possibility of specialising in areas such as mental health, palliative care and children’s nursing. As well as hospitals, nurses can work in health centres and care homes or out in the community. 


Whatever their workplace, nurses are all about promoting public health. They’re not only helping GPs, doctors and consultants treat patients, often they’re also being an attentive confidant and carer. 


For Sue Sutherland, who works in an Acute Care Hospital, becoming a nurse was the fulfillment of a childhood ambition. 


“As a youngster I always dreamed of being a nurse,” she explains. “My mum was a nurse, so it was logical…I really, really wanted to follow in her footsteps. It wasn’t an easy journey, however.  


As I got older I realised the hours were going to be long and the pressures that first studying and then the actual job can put on you are pretty big. This isn’t a job for the faint-hearted” 


In Sue’s current role, the biggest challenges are often set by the clock. 


“I frequently work in the emergency department,” she explains, “and the deadlines are really quite demanding. It can sometimes be difficult to balance the need to see patients moved swiftly through the process of being assessed then treated and the desire to sit and really listen to their concerns.” 


This means for Sue there’s no such thing as a typical day.  


“We can start with a child coming in with a sore tummy then move suddenly to a code red heart attack patient. Whatever happens, we must be prepared to take all that the shift throws at us and do the best we can. And probably do it all over again the next day.  


But the satisfaction that comes from seeing a patient arriving in sometimes a critical condition, or even just coming in to us in a distressed state, then finally leaving our care more stable and relaxed is simply unbeatable.” 


Sue has been on the frontline of nursing for more than 12 years now and has seen many changes in the workplace. 


“It’s not just the amazing effect of new medicines and surgical techniques – and, of course, the technology – that have had an impact on how we do our jobs. Every year I’ve witnessed the changes nurses have had to make in order to meet new national standards and government-led targets and timeframes. 


“Although the timeframes may help get patients through the system more quickly, it puts extra pressure on medical teams. It’s a process of continually upping your game.” 


So, what’s next for Sue’s own nursing career? 


“Well, I’ve recently taken my senior nurse’s course so I’m certainly looking forward to being active in healthcare for many more years to come.” 


What advice would she give to anyone who wants to become a nurse?  


“Oh, that’s a difficult question. Right now, having not long come off what should have been a 12-hour night shift that ran into a 15-hour marathon, I’d say make sure you build up your stamina and be prepared to really graft.  


“And, when the going gets tough – and it will – remember what an immense difference you’re making to a patient’s life just by being there, listening and administering care. 


“It’s a job like no other when you can go home knowing you helped or even saved a life.” 


Healthcare pros like Sue know a career in nursing, particularly on the frontline of emergency services, offers the potential to transform the lives of people who suddenly find themselves ill, injured or in distress. 


If you feel a vocation to work in nursing is right for you, the range of jobs is both broad and varied. No matter what your work experience, qualifications or skill set, you can find your own unique role. 


And what better way to mark International Nurses Day on May 12th than to begin your own career in nursing?