Helena Kelly, Lecturer of Community Health Nursing tells us about leaving District Nursing to become a lecturer.
Leaving District Nursing after 20 years is one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. I was at the pinnacle of my career, embracing every opportunity to provide the highest standard of care to people at home, creating connections and strong partnerships within the organisation and further afield, trying to raise the profile of the unique specialist area that is District Nursing.
Lecturer of Community Health Nursing
Glasgow Caledonian University
So why leave now?
My career pathway was clearly leading me down an education route; mentor, sign off mentor and practice teacher through the years. Opportunities arose to facilitate sessions at Queen Margaret University with both pre and post registration programmes, and then I got on the Masters rollercoaster which included completing the Post-grad Certificate in Professional and Higher Education, this led to becoming an NMC registered nurse teacher and a Higher education academy teaching fellow.
Another area that began to open its doors to me was research and practice development. I was given the opportunity to be part of a research team looking at integration between Health and Social Care at end of life (funded by QNIS). This opening allowed me to realise the potential district nurses have to promote existing specialist knowledge and skills and develop practice through high quality evidence based care provision.
What happened then?
I was encouraged to start applying for lecturer posts by colleagues and family; I hadn’t had an interview for 15 years and thought why not, it will be good experience!
I got an interview!
I walked into the Govan Mbeki building here at Glasgow Caledonian University and was met by a smiling, welcoming face. I wanted to work here! There were four people on the interview panel, I was nervous but kept thinking this will be good experience. The panel were friendly and encouraging and very quickly I relaxed. Then I was asked that one question, and there was the dreaded silence. I knew how to answer it but the words completely failed me. That’s it I thought, game over.
But then I got the phone call, pleased to offer me the job! What? I couldn’t answer, never expected this! It’s in Glasgow, need to speak to my husband and get back to you I said.
I said yes!
Where am I now?
And so here I am, three weeks as a Lecturer of Adult community health nursing. I have never felt so valued for my District nursing experience. Colleagues have said they are so happy to have me here, and regularly acknowledge the wealth of knowledge and experience I can bring to all nursing programmes. It’s exciting.
I will be working not only with Year 1 nursing students but students from other professions including social work, psychology, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, ophthalmology. What an opportunity; to begin to instil positive professional relationships and integrated working at this level. I will also be able to share my passion and determination to raise the profile of community nursing and the rewards and benefits of working within the community.
I will also be involved in the advanced practice in district nursing programme and so can contribute to the professional development of existing community nurses to become visionary, influential leaders who will engage and empower their teams to sustain this unique and extremely valuable role.
I have always believed that District Nurses make a difference in people’s lives and despite no longer being in that clinical role, I know that I can continue to contribute to that legacy through educating the community nurses of the future.