'If this is what it's like as a student, I don't want to be a nurse'


The number of registered nurses and midwives in the UK is falling.

For the first time since 2008, more nurses and midwives are leaving the profession than joining it.

A lot of people who left said working conditions were a big reason for changing jobs.

Louise, 22, is a final-year nursing student at university who is having doubts about whether she will stay in nursing once she qualifies in three months' time.

Student protestors against NHS cuts

"I really love the NHS. Everyone is there for the right reasons."

"I completely admire every single person who can work under those pressures from health case assistants to nurses, doctors, therapists but for some people those pressures are too much and the NHS needs our support now more than anything."

She says she is "witnessing nurses go elsewhere in order to be happier and healthier", and adds: "it's also something I'm considering before I've even qualified".

I've been signed off on two occasions with stress and depression

For her, the stress of the job is a major reason she may reconsider her career path.

"I have recently lost all motivation and passion for my job because of the stress and responsibility put on nurses," she says.

Louise has been on placement in hospital wards as part of her nursing course.

"I entered my training feeling positive about making a change, but through my experience, it's becoming impossible.

"I've been signed off on two occasions with stress and depression as a result of the long and hard shift work."

She adds: "It's left me really unmotivated, and the support for students and nurses that feel this way is currently non-existent.

"If this is what it's like as a student, I don't think I really want to be a nurse."

Protesters against the public sector pay rise cap
Image caption Protesters against the public sector pay rise cap

Louise says she's already started to consider looking elsewhere once she qualifies as a nurse.

Although working conditions are a major reason Louise is reconsidering, pay is another factor.

Public sector workers' pay has been capped at 1% since 2013, which means it hasn't gone up as much as living costs.

Some cabinet ministers are putting pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May to raise the cap so that public sector workers, including nurses, could get a higher pay rise.

A placard from an NHS protest saying: "These cuts won't heal"

"I'm considering going into retail," Louise says.

"I've seen jobs advertised where you can earn so much more than a newly-qualified nurse. I've also thought about working in office jobs."

She adds: "I'm completely undecided because I don't want to lose my passion for nursing, but I also don't want to put my health at risk further than I already have."

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