“My name is Maria Drummond and I have been working as a community staff nurse for the eight years that I have been a registered nurse. I recently completed the SPQ in Advanced Practice in District Nursing (PGDip), and instead of moving into a full time district nursing post I have started a PhD at the University of Glasgow. In this blog post I will share some information about why I chose this option and the research I will be undertaking.
“The aim of my research is to develop a supportive intervention for carers of people with long term conditions who are receiving palliative care. However, this was not what I imagined would be the first step in my district nursing career. I had always hoped to be managing a caseload and leading a team.
“Transitioning from a community staff nurse to district nurse was far more challenging (and enlightening) than I first imagined. I had not anticipated such a steep learning curve because, although I had moved into a new team, I was still based in the same geographic location that I had worked in for about four years, I was confident in my abilities as a staff nurse and knew most of the people I was working with. And yet, it wasn’t as straightforward as I presumed. Being a district nursing student can be confusing, I struggled to manage conflicting systems of working and attitudes. I felt stuck between the aspirational vision set out at university and the realities of the front-line. However, a big part of the reason why I was able to overcome the challenges I faced was because of the support I received from patients’ carers. Getting to know all the patients on a new caseload can feel like an impossible mountain to climb. However, carers are always there to help us; from offering advice on how to properly organise pillows for a bedbound patient, to helping us to understand their loved one with aphasia. But they not only help me to enhance my patient care, they offer practical support on days when I feel I will never get round all my visits; everything from short cuts to get to the next area to suggestions on better times of the day to visit that might improve the quality of the time I have to spend.
“Being taken in and made to feel comfortable and supported in so many people’s lives and homes is such a privilege of district nursing. This was one of the main reasons why I couldn’t resist applying for funded PhD research that might help the carers that have been so invaluable to me! I’ve not left district nursing entirely, I remain in practice one day a week and I am still based in the east end of Glasgow. But the rest of the week I am working on my research. There’s still so much to be decided about this project but I’ll be working closely with carers at every stage. I want to be confident that the intervention that is selected is something they want and need.
“My two supervisors are Professor Bridget Johnston and Dr Terry Quinn, and I am gradually building a support network of other PhD nursing students as well as connecting with district nursing educators and academics all over the UK. Twitter has been amazing for this! I’ve also started a blog about my journey from district nursing clinician to clinical academic. If you want to follow me you can find me on twitter at @mdrumm88 and the web address for my blog is https://phdistrictnurse.wordpress.com/. The district nursing network is such an inspiring and supportive community, and I am very grateful to be part of it going into this pretty scary but exciting new phase in my career.”
Clare Cable, Chief Executive and Nurse Director of QNIS, said: “This post from Maria demonstrates really well the importance of all four pillars of practice; Maria is choosing to focus on research at this point in her career –which is, of course, integral to compassionate, high quality care.
“Developing the evidence base for community nursing is vital to patients, carers and district nurses on the journey to enabling the best possible care.
“We wish her well with her research and look forward to hearing how she progresses with her PhD.”
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