For International Nurses Day yesterday, St Neots Hospital celebrated our Nurses by giving them a cream tea treat party for both those working on the day and night shift and reflecting about what it is to be Nurse in 2019.
It is on Nurse’s Day that I always think about why I became a Nurse 21 years ago. How I can continue to inspire and develop my Nurses and future Nurses to work in a field that I have become passionate about, Neuropsychiatry.
Back in the ’90s whilst undertaking my training, we were lucky enough to have training sessions at an ABI Unit. This ignited the spark that inspired me to request a placement there to find out more. The rest, as they say, is history and I joined on qualifying as a Nurse. During the last 21 years, I have worked with some incredible Nurses who have inspired me in how I developed as a Nurse Leader. I hope that I have in turn inspired others, in the way they have developed.
Perhaps it is because of how I ‘fell’ into my passion for working within a neurological setting that I have always wanted to give future Nurses the best learning experience during their placements. Since joining St Neots Hospital we have been successful in working with Northampton University. We currently have our third and fourth students with us at this time. This has only enhanced the service we deliver to our patients and offered a development opportunity to the staff supporting them. We are also working with Anglia Ruskin University and hope to have their students arriving later this year.
Clinical exposure and experience is key to developing the skills and knowledge of the Nurses of the future. This is where they get the opportunity to work with and observe good clinical role models. Whilst nursing is now a degree level profession, with academia playing a part in providing the knowledge base required, it is the experiences of the clinical exposure within the placement which will inspire Nurses to return to working within particular areas. Working within a neuro setting may not be one that a student would naturally migrate to without having this positive placement experience. We are not the ‘cool kids’ of nursing in some people’s eyes. It takes a positive experience to really sway people to invest their career in this rewarding environment.
Within neuro, not only are you able to develop skills and knowledge of delivering person-centred care to a vulnerable group of individuals, but you also have the opportunity to practice in areas that you perhaps wouldn’t have done within a traditional mental health setting. You are very likely to have the opportunity to develop skills and clinical competencies in physical healthcare, whilst also managing more traditional mental health challenges and supporting individuals to come to terms with their altered functioning. There is usually a significant loss of self for the person due to their individual diagnosis, be it as a result of an acquired brain injury, or as a result of a neurodegenerative illness such as Huntingtons Disease or a Dementia.
Learning does not stop at the point of completing your nurse training. It is important that every new Nurse has the opportunity to consolidate their learning, knowledge and skills, as a new Preceptorship Nurse in a supported and structured way. Within Elysium Healthcare we are fortunate to have an excellent programme within the Preceptorship Academy for all of our newly qualified staff. Ongoing support and development for all nurses supports the professional development and career progression in a positive and planned way.
As a qualified Nurse, it is important that we take on the responsibilities of teaching others through sharing our knowledge and experience in the hope that this will be used to develop and shape these future Nurses into Preceptorship Nurses, and beyond.
Louise Smith, St Neots Hospital Director