The moment I realised... I wanted to be a nurse

Rachael Palmer explains the moment she realised she wanted to make a difference to patients when they need it most

2 min read

I decided to become a nurse because I wanted to be that person a patient remembers was there for them on every step of their journey and made a difference, big or small.


The moment I realised I was becoming an adult nurse was on my first ever placement on an acute stroke unit in my first year. 

A patient who I had been looking after had had a second stroke in hospital and his family was saying their goodbyes. 

I came in a couple of days later and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw his name on the handover sheet. 

I went to see him in my break to say hello and his wife said to him, ‘look who’s here to see you, do you remember Rachael?’ And he opened his eyes and turned his head towards me and said, ‘of course I do.’ 

He went to a community rehabilitation centre later on and after reading their feedback and understanding my part in their journey that was the moment I realised I was becoming a nurse.

My most challenging moment so far has been when myself and another member of staff were re-positioning a patient, a man in his 90's who had a stroke. I looked down and he had started to turn purple and was struggling to breathe. I suspected his airways may be obstructed by vomit because he’d been feeling nauseous that day. I pulled the emergency bell and we put him into the recovery position. 

He recovered with some intervention but afterwards when doing his observations and holding his hand he was really scared and wouldn’t let go. I realised then how privileged we are as nurses to be with people at their most challenging times and that’s really special to me. 

That experience made me think of nursing as a human profession at the most basic level. Regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, we care for all people from all walks of life. There were 75 years between that man and I but there I was holding his hand and helping him through. 

Unfortunately he passed away a couple of days later but I will never forget the kind words that his wife said to me about the differences we made.


Realise your potential at Plymouth and make a difference to someone’s life when it matters most

Our degree will prepare you to care for adults with acute/long-term illness, in a multitude of healthcare settings. You will be ready to play a vital role in health promotion and disease prevention as well as nursing adults. Working closely with other healthcare professionals, patients and their families, you will gain the necessary experience, competencies and skills needed to join the 1000s of our graduates working as registered nurses.

Study BSc (Hons) Nursing (Adult Health)