Friday, September 18, 2009

Nursing Registration

In exactly six weeks, my registration with the Nurses and Midwives Board of NSW expires. It's been almost a year since I did my last shift, and I am no longer in the employ of any of the fine health-provision facilities whose halls I once strode. I've handed in my ID tags, my sensible shoes and all the pairs of surgical scissors I borrowed from the treatment room over the years. I've forgotten how to read an ECG, I couldn't cannulate a garden hose with a power drill, and I giggle when I hear someone use the word "infarct". So I'm not a registered nurse any more. Except that I am. While ever I am still RN11***09, I can hypothetically bail this writing caper and seek re-employment in the children's ward or emergency department of my choice.

My wife has made it very clear that even if I did need to seek other employment, she would fight tooth and nail to prevent me going back to the life of an under-paid, over-worked, under-valued shift-working registered nurse. Because it made me a far less pleasant person to be married, she tells me. To which I nod, and say, "Never mind being married to it – living it was bad enough."

I became a full-time writer quite some time ago. That is to say, I stopped being a registered nurse who liked to write, and who had a couple of published books to his name, and became a writer who occasionally worked a casual shift in an emergency department. Something changed in the way I approached my writing. I guess the short version is, I became more professional about it. It felt good.

So now I sit here, with my Renewal of Registration form on my desk before me, and I'm not going to renew it. I'm not. And it's not just the $95. In fact, that's not it at all. This is a symbolic thing. Once I drop that form into the recycling, I'm on my own. I'm a writer, and only a writer. And it feels great.


Book Dragon said...

t may feel great but I'd think it would be scary as all get out!

Anonymous said...

Oh, James - you are my hero! Let that bad boy EXPIRE. I command thee - toss that form in the clinical waste bin STAT!

A year since your last shift - God - I am dreaming of that day. I, too, am an RN -30 years under the belt (makes me want to hurl when I see it in print) and I can so relate to the shifts and extreme tiredness and personality swings. And I don't blame your wife in the slightest for feeling the way she does.

I am presently working my way through my second manuscript - the first being shelved for a while as there isn't enough room in my head for both. Have done Year of the Edit with Kim Wilkins and am now doing Year of the Novel - totally out of synch - but as you would understand - that's the life of a nurse.

Strangely enough, I picked up a copy of 'Town' today and then came across your blog whilst I was researching YA fiction online. I never realised you were a nurse. I just did CYA again this year and loved it. Ally and Tina do such an awesome job.

I laughed at your mention of scissors. I could rebuild the Titanic with the amount of metal I have stored in this house from various instruments that have weaved their way into my pockets. And pens - Jesus - I could remodel Disney world in plastic. I can only dream at this point of being a writer and only a writer. You ARE a writer and only a writer. Toss that form!

It was so reassuring to me to hear another nursing writer ( ex - nursing writer - officially) express the very same things I find so challenging and frustrating. I am looking forward to the day I can trash my rego renewal and never look back.

I celebrate your non-registration! Congratulations. Now - toss it - go on - and not in the recycle bin...ok?