Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Coast Health
I have been working in community nursing for more than 30 years now. Working in hospitals wasn’t really for me. It can be quite revealing working in a GP practice, there is a huge diversity of people and health needs, and it has given me the scope to develop my role in many directions. I enjoy being at the heart of a community, part of people’s day to day lives. My role right now includes triaging calls, which means on those days I am the first port of call for someone who is unwell. Every conversation is new, and my expertise is in assessing the nature and seriousness of the issue whilst providing comfort and reassurance recognising the impact of the conversation on the rest of that person’s day.
I achieved my Masters Degree (MSc) in Primary Care which helped me develop skills around critical analysis, research, clinical assessment and decision making. Higher education really has been central to my career development but even when I’m not at university, not a month goes by without me learning something or finding another area to explore. I always keep an enquiring mind -it helps maintain my interest and passion for what I do.
My role as NES Education Advisor in my locality is important in supporting continuous professional development for GP employed nurses. Having a ‘voice’ to enable us to engage with strategic development is challenging. I believe that individual voices can be combined to have a greater impact, a force that can engage with the media! I chaired the Scottish Practice Nurse Association (SPNA) and discovered I had the expertise to articulate the concerns and future goals of nurses in general practice along with my fellow committee members That’s a powerful feeling and a responsibility I still take very seriously as I continue to try to raise the profile of general practice nursing.
This truly is a fantastic career and a gateway to lifelong learning. There are so many opportunities to develop your clinical knowledge and skills with a huge support network at your disposal. You need to come in with enthusiasm but if you do I promise you it will be worth it. Roles in community nursing are developing all the time, some growing out of all recognition and you could play a part in promoting this new narrative. I still meet people in the GP surgery who think my role is limited to blood pressure and taking samples, they don’t realise I can diagnose and prescribe as I’m not a doctor. If you’re determined and want to help expand the scope and professional role of nursing in this area, then this is absolutely the job for you. Community nurses don’t work in a silo, we are part of something bigger, embedded in a huge team making neighbourhoods and communities healthier and that’s something worth becoming a part of.
I really enjoy listening deeply so that I have a good understanding of an individual’s needs and concerns, particularly when supporting someone with progressive or long-term illness. I like to know that the advice I am providing is evidence-based, that I am continually giving the highest quality care. What’s special is that I am teaching that same attitude to those I care for and those that work with me. If you’re promoting self-management or self-development, patient or nurses, you have to help everyone to r reach their own potential. Critical thinking is a transferable skill, if you understand yourself, your authentic self, it helps you understand others. By picking up on things that resonate with an individual you can better relate to them. Humility is one of the most important skills I have. I don’t just tell people what I know, I invite them to participate, and we explore issues together. I regularly ask for feedback, inviting comments on what more I can do, and I listen closely to the advice of others. You don’t need to have all the answers and I’m completely transparent about that.
The real difference the programme has made has been allowing me to connect with even more nurses across the country. Uniquely this has given me a network I can touch base with both personally and professionally. It has boosted my wellbeing and given me a virtual venue to discuss the best support for patients. Often, we can signpost one another to useful organisations and services. Prior to the QN programme, I taught respiratory nursing across Scotland for NES and was a clinical lead in respiratory care in Fife prior to that. I have always had an awareness of the wider group of practice nurses but now I have connections with district nurses, health visitors and prison nurses. The pride I have in seeing others do great things is inspiring. The programme has helped me to grow inner reflective confidence, the ability to relax in my own presence. My coach in particular helps me with that. Practice nursing seemed to be an isolated part of the community, but I now understand it doesn’t need to feel this way. The programme has helped me to understand, articulate and live my values as a nurse and as a member of my community.