I’m in a funny period of waiting. I have a provisional start date for my job but nothing can move forward until the wheels of officialdom at the university have cranked out a proclamation of fitness to practice. In the meantime I continue to work away on various writing and illustration projects, and have been looking through my old nursing bits and pieces. Is there a word for these symbolic things that go with particular professions? Items that act as signifiers as well as having some sort of function.
In the picture above you can see my pin badges from when I first qualified and an old name badge. There’s my notebook of ‘Vital Information’ for quick reference when I couldn’t remember the difference between Prothrombin Time, Partial Prothrombin Time, and Activated Partial Prothrombin Time at 2 o’clock in the morning. It also contained all those random but essential bits of institutional information which no one ever taught you but you were some how supposed ‘know’, perhaps by osmosis, such as the times of the pharmacy delivery rounds. You can see my precious artery forceps there too. They look innocuous, but got me out of some real scrapes.
In amongst my own, I have some of my Nan’s things. She qualified from Barts in the 30s, later working at the prestigious Moorfields Eye Hospital. I can’t imagine what it must have been like working as a nurse pre-NHS. You can see her nursing dictionary, held together with bandage tape, and her belt buckle. It’s funny to think how many times in one shift I must have repeated the same tasks as she had, separated by decades.
And so I continue to wait, glad of precious time to get ahead on edits or even start a first draft of a new book (!), all the while eyeing my provisional start date with an uneasy mixture of excitement and trepidation.