General Practice Nurse
Newburgh and Abernethy Surgery
“After a short time in orthopaedic trauma and gynaecology I worked as lead nurse in an independent boarding school. The students came from 33 different countries, and I was presented with varied healthcare cultures and beliefs. This really broadened my knowledge, and advanced my communication skills, especially where some of the parents didn’t understand any English.”
Emma eventually moved into General Practice.
“I knew a practice nurse that inspired me – even when she wasn’t at work, she was a community role model. Working in a surgery means you’re always present and ready because you have to be accessible for patients. It’s not just about health promotion, protection and screening, much of the time I am listening to people and helping them make good choices.”
“Working in general practice is a great opportunity to create connections that foster community spirit. On my commute I’m proud to see our patients walking, cycling or out with their dogs, early in the morning and when I see them in clinic, I tell them so. The surgery helped to initiate a new choir group for those with chronic respiratory conditions, and dementia. Linking people with established community groups like the bowling club or the choir helps to foster and encourage health for people where they are. It’s at the heart of primary care nursing.”
Emma recognises the need to make every opportunity count.
“You have to adapt your skills, and your appointment book, to respond to the needs in front of you. Mental health is so important, and I make sure that I take opportunities as they arise. For instance, a gentleman man attended for a blood test. He was recently widowed, and I could sense that he wasn’t speaking to anyone. If I spot something like that, even a tiny indication, I leave the door open so that they have that invitation to talk to me.”
“My other passion is empowering people to take greater control over their health and lifestyle choices. Sometimes professional organisations aren’t available at the right time and place, but I can help them find their own strength and provide ongoing support. I might only see someone for 10 minutes at a time, but that window is enough to spark a real change in someone’s confidence in their own abilities.”
Connecting with previous cohorts and going through the programme herself, Emma says becoming a Queen’s Nurse is a state of being.
“There is a profound difference in me. Maybe it’s all the swimming in the North Sea or taking up photography, that’s definitely a part of it, but I think it’s the permission to act that has been most radical. I’m gently unwrapping the packaging I have been subconsciously building up. Finally, I’m not afraid to reveal the real me and the nurse I want to be and although I have been challenged to feel vulnerable on this journey, I have never felt exposed.”
“Of course, it’s not a utopia and I still have doubts, but I now have the tools to understand my own potential. I can ask questions and I’m no longer afraid of looking silly. I’ve completed additional training and I love to learn but the Queen’s Nurse programme is like being nudged by someone you trust, there are no expectations, I am simply recognised for who I am.”
In the future Emma wants to make a difference to the professional culture she works in.
“I’m so grateful to be able to discuss my ambitions with Clare, my cohort, my facilitators, buddy and coach. Already I have ideas about how I want to practice going forward. Finding value in myself means I now value the influence I have over my own career, the way that I work and how I interact with my profession.”
Since becoming a Queen’s Nurse Emma has moved to NHS Tayside and now works as a Professional and Practice Development Nurse. Her new role includes supporting person-centred care in care homes across Perth and Kinross.