Lecturer to Ward Manager…4 weeks on

After 10 years as a lecturer in children’s nursing, I was offered the post of Ward Manager of a children’s ward in a district general hospital. With human resources administration and working my notice period, I was eventually able to start my new journey on 7th August.

When I shared the news that I was moving on, colleagues, friends and family, and social media followers offered a real mixed bag of reactions. At first I was showered with many congratulations, which was of course lovely. Many also suggested that I would be able to make a huge difference to children’s nursing. Many more suggested that the knowledge I could take back to clinical practice would be of great benefit to the NHS. The positivity was great! Then the down side. There were people who thought I was taking a downwards career move, as they thought I had a sparkling career in academia ahead of me. Many colleagues also said they wouldn’t return to the NHS due to the pressures the service is under.  The most common response though, has been the idea that I was making a ‘brave’ move with many expressing their fear of such a ‘radical’ move after so many years away from clinical practice. But is it brave? Is it radical? I don’t think so. I am a registered children’s nurse after all, although at least two people have asked if I‘ve needed to do a return to nursing programme (I’ve never left the NMC register!). I’ve also been questioned why I would leave my very nice well paid job with short hours and long holidays. Any nurse academic will of course tell you that the hours are long. They read, they write, they prepare teaching, they teach, they research, they develop themselves and others, they work long hours, they work evenings, they work weekends, they are always thinking. They work hard. Its just different. That’s the beauty of a nursing qualification, the career paths are many and diverse. The responses to my ‘brave radical’ move have also been many and diverse.

I left my job on graduation day. What a fabulous day to mark the end of 10 years teaching. Watching students graduate is a proud moment, to know that I contributed to their learning and in turn to the people they will be working with. Fast forward to my first day in the new job in a trust I’ve never worked in. As in any new post, there was a raft of information to take in, so many names to remember, and getting lost was the order of the day! Over the last four weeks I’ve been learning, meeting people, understanding organisational structure and of course the thing I missed the most, meeting children and families.

So after 4 weeks in the job, here are my thoughts on the journey so far….

I can confirm that my decision to return to clinical practice has been a good one, I’m happy I made the move. It feels right. In many ways it feels like I’ve never really been away. I’m enjoying being back in clinical practice with a whole raft of new challenges ahead. After 10 years, while systems have changed, little has changed in the way of clinical practice. This has been positive in confirming that what I have been teaching has been relevant and accurate. It is also saddening in some ways that change hasn’t happened. The development of systems appears to be of benefit, for example, E-rostering. The principles are the same as in the olden days, sitting with paper and a pencil (with an eraser!) for hours to formulate a duty rota. Thank goodness it’s now done electronically.  The e-roster system offers much more and even links to payroll so no timesheet to complete and sign off. It also offers lots more analysis at the click of a mouse. I like it. Another system new to me is Datix, where staff input all incidents. It’s certainly positive that staff report incidents, but it does create a lot of work. I’m sure staff didn’t report as much ten years ago as they do now, but developing a culture of feeling able to report is a positive move forward. There is also an electronic patient records system which is taking a bit of getting used too. Another improvement is that we appear to have much safer staffing than we did ten years ago. It feels odd that ten years ago, on wards I worked on, there would be only 2 registered nurses and 1 healthcare assistant working a night shift for 20 patients. Following RCN safe staffing guidance it feels much safer now that we have staffing ratios to work with.

There are of course things that I think could be improved and of course they are challenges for the coming months. Anyone who knows me will know that I like making lists, and ticking things off at completion is most satisfactory! I’m looking forward to working through our lists. We have a good team, good managers and I’m looking forward to leading us all. I have no regrets. Not one. So if you’re thinking about making a move, I don’t think its brave or radical, its probably just the right time to do something different. Just go in there and remember you’re fantastic! (Thank you Alison for the reminder :-))

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Going back to my roots

Having made the decision to leave the world of academia and return to clinical practice, so many people have asked me what has triggered the move….well, there are many reasons! I’ll try to explain…..

Earlier this year, a close friend passed away and as so often happens following tragedy, I re-evaluated. It made me think about what I was doing and where I really wanted to be. I’ve been a lecturer in children’s nursing since 2007. In that time I’ve learned a lot about nursing, about academia, and of course about me! I’ve been privileged to teach our future nursing workforce, write for publication, speak at conferences, win awards, meet exceptionally talented people, guide students through to qualification and graduation, work creatively and try new things with equally creative people, and work towards a PhD (work is very much still in progress) amongst many other things. I’ve loved seeing our students complete the programme and go on to do great things. All of this though comes at a price. I’ve worked long hours, evenings and countless weekends, and contrary to popular belief, nurse lecturers don’t finish for Summer holidays in May and return in September!

After almost 10 years in the same job, I applied for a senior lecturer post but was unsuccessful. I learned a lot from this experience and began to realise that the prospect of career advancement in academia was not going to come without further cost to my work life balance. My work ethic has always been such that I have continued to work incredibly hard, taking on new roles and new projects, and on the whole, I’ve enjoyed it all (I wouldn’t have lasted 10 years otherwise!). The thing I’ve really missed though, is clinical practice and over the last year or so, the pull back to practice has grown stronger and stronger. I’ve always continued to maintain my links with clinical practice and continued to teach clinical skills, but it isn’t the same…..I also still have a long career ahead of me. I have 25 years left to work and so after a lot of thinking and a lot of talking, I made it my goal to have a new job by the end of the year. I guess the beauty of a nursing qualification means that career options are wide and varied so I had a lot to think about. I knew that I wanted to work with children and families again and I wanted to use my clinical skills. I wanted to get some work/life balance back in a job where I had more defined hours, but would still be challenged and have opportunity to lead and manage. I wanted the team banter and camaraderie that was present in so many clinical teams. I wanted to go back to my roots.

A few weeks ago I applied for a job as Ward Manager of a children’s ward at a local trust. I was interviewed and I got a great feeling about both the people I would be working with and the organisation. I have happily accepted the post. I’m now looking forward to working with babies, children, young people, and families once again, and I’m looking forward to a new challenge. I’m looking forward to meeting my team and leading them in the best way that I can. I will of course miss my students, and I will miss my colleagues, and I will miss those who have been my cheerleaders along the way.

I’m looking forward to going back to my roots 🙂

‘Registration Renewed’

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‘Registration Renewed’ – I’m incredibly proud to be on the Nursing and Midwifery Council Register. I worked hard for that PIN and each day I work hard to retain my PIN. It means a lot to me, so today when I saw those words ‘registration renewed’ it made me smile 🙂 Today I have revalidated my professional registration with the Nursing & Midwifery Council, which enables me to continue to practice as a registered nurse in the UK for the next three years. The process of revalidation is fairly new, and all nurses and midwives in the UK must now complete this in order to maintain their professional registration.

As one of the first nurses required to follow the new revalidation process, I thought it might be useful to offer my perspective of the process. As a nurse working in education, I don’t work in a traditional clinical area and so here are my thoughts on revalidation from a nurse academics point of view.

A few months ago, I started receiving emails from NMC Online telling to prepare for revalidation before 1st April. I’ve been busy as always and have to admit while it was certainly a priority, I kept putting it off until I had a good amount of time to focus on it, so a few weeks ago, when I realised it was creeping up on me, I set to work firstly reading through the supporting information, then printing off the templates provided by the Nursing and Midwifery Council and then making an appointment with my line manager (as my confirmer).

I must also admit that when I realised I would need to revalidate soon I was a little apprehensive, especially as at first glance it appeared to be a lot of work (it actually wasn’t!) and as I don’t work in a traditional clinical practice area, I wondered if I would be able to meet the requirements (of course I would!). After seeing much discussion and debate about revalidation on social media, I had been left with the feeling that revalidation was going to be something complicated, and something really quite time consuming so I was pleasantly surprised to find that wasn’t the case.

Once I realised that actually there are just 5 elements to revalidation, it made much more sense and felt much more manageable in bite size chunks, so here’s how I recorded the revalidation requirements:

a) Practice hours log
This was straight forward. I have worked full time for the last three years so fairly easy to calculate annual hours. There is a list to choose from for your scope of practice and setting, for me my scope of practice is Education in a university setting.

b) 35 hours of CPD activity
This was fairly easy to do. I looked back through my diary for the last 3 years. I was able to identify far more CPD activity than I needed. This is because CPD activity doesn’t necessarily mean sitting in a classroom. In fact for the participatory element, the NMC state ‘you simply have to undertake activity that involves interaction with one or more other professionals. This can be in a physical environment or a virtual one – you don’t have to be in the same room as the people you undertake the activity with’. My CPD activity was fairly diverse and included attendance on a 3 day qualitative research workshop, enter and view panel training with Healthwatch, and JISC Learning and Teaching Expert Group meetings. I’ve also presented at conferences (and participated as a delegate), participated on lots of staff development days, and of course I am a PhD student so lots of learning taking place there! The key here is to think beyond traditional classroom CPD activity, learning and development happens in many places!

c) 5 pieces of practice related feedback
Ok, so this is the one I was a little more concerned about. I don’t work in a clinical area, so I had to look elsewhere for feedback. After a bit of thinking, I began to find feedback in so many places: module evaluations, emails, online discussions, nominations for awards, discussions with staff, teaching observations, thank you cards, PDR, etc. It turned out to be much easier than I thought. The key here is to think a little bit wider than written feedback. Feedback comes in many forms.

d) 5 written reflective accounts
This was straight forward, particularly with the templates provided by the NMC. It isn’t arduous, it focuses on The Code and is actually quite useful for developing future goals.

e) Reflective Discussion
This can be done with a registrant, who may or may not be your confirmer, and as my confirmer highlighted today, sometimes it may be more useful to have that discussion with someone who maybe more appropriate. I did my reflective discussion with my confirmer today, and it was fine.

Following my confirmation meeting, I needed to log on to NMC Online to enter my confirmers details, in addition to declaring that I have good health and character and that I have a professional indemnity arrangement. Oh and the small matter of the annual fee £120….

So, all in all a straight forward process. My advice, don’t get overwhelmed, get yourself a folder, print off the templates, and start to build your revalidation evidence. I’ve decided to start my revalidation for 2019 now! I do think its a worthwhile process and I feel that having another registrant to confirm that I have met the requirements to remain on the register really strengthens our credibility as registered nurses. Happy revalidating and let me know how you get on 🙂

Ready for #SUSoMe ‘Social Media for Professional Use’ by @wlasinclair

Back in January I held the first Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 08.50.43meeting of the Social Media Special Interest Group in the School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences at the University of Salford. One of my actions from the meeting was to plan a showcase of good practice examples to show staff how they could use social media in their work. In the planning, I met with Dr Leslie Robinson (Senior Lecturer in Diagnostic Radiography) who also wanted to showcase good practice examples, and so the planning for this event began. Fast forward to June 2015 and we now have a free event for staff and students (and friends of the university) planned for Wednesday 24th June 2015.

We have a great programme exploring three themes:Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 08.46.03

  • Professional Networking
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Research

Our speakers are a range of healthcare professionals, students, patients and we are also privileged to have Professor Andy Miah, Chair in Science Communication & Digital Media at the University of Salford.

I’m very pleased to say that our Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 08.54.48keynote speaker is Registered Nurse Teresa Chinn MBE who is the founder of @WeNurses and WeCommunities. Teresa recently received her MBE for services to nursing through social media.

Teresa is a great supporter of Salford University and our @nursingSUni account

She will be broadcasting her session live via Periscope and you can read more about this here http://www.wecommunities.org/blogs/105

The event aims to demonstrate good practice examples of using social media as a professional. If you aren’t physically joining us, we’d really like you to virtually join us on Twitter or Facebook leading up to the event and on the day

Like and share our Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/SUsocialmedia

Search for the Twitter hashtag #SUSoMe

We are making brave steps forward in using Social Media as professionals at The University of Salford and so I hope that this event is the first of many. It is however, the first time I’ve been involved in organising such an event, which brings both nerves and excitement with it. Will anyone come? Will people enjoy it? Will people get value from it? I don’t know for sure, but I believe everyone who attends will take something from it!

So if you are a staff member, a student or a friend of the University of Salford, please join us on the day by booking through eventbrite.

What I learned from the Children’s Community Nursing Team (@wlasinclair)

As a lecturer with an increasing workload, my visits to clinical areas in recent years have become less frequent and have become a functional role of placement audit and problem solving. In an attempt to address this, I arranged to spend the day with a children’s community nursing team. Spending time in this clinical practice setting served several purposes. Firstly I wanted to learn more about the current role of the children’s community nurse and how it might develop in the future. At the university we are currently exploring ways to develop a new curriculum and so I wanted to ensure that children and young people and their health needs are accurately represented. I wanted to ensure that the knowledge and skills we include in our programmes are appropriate to meet the needs of the children, young people and families that we serve. Secondly, I wanted to develop my role with the team and build a stronger relationship between us both so that we can enjoy mutual understanding of roles that I hope will in turn help to inform our curriculum.

My last experience of working with a community children’s nursing team was back in 1997 as a student nurse, on placement with a very newly formed team. I went on to spend most of my nursing life in acute care and education and so it was important for me to begin to understand more about the current role and current service. I learned lots from my time with the team and loved getting out to meet to children and families again. So here are a few things that I learned:

  • #Hellomynameis

Every single visit began with an introduction. I wasn’t surprised; it’s all I’ve ever known in children’s nursing. We just need to continue to ensure that it remains.

  • Service Hours

The service is available 7 days a week from 8am until Midnight. Home visits and nurse led clinics mean that more than ever, we have to ensure our student nurses develop their independent clinical decision making skills.

  • Technology

The team are using an electronic patient records system. There were problems on the day accessing information, as the system was slow. Referrals were still being received via fax machine. It seems to me that this is an area where we desperately need to develop the use of technology. We also have to develop the digital/tech skills of our student nurses who will then be able to assist with the development of technology that will greatly enhance practice in the future.

  • Health Promotion

Many of the visits were used to provide support and offer advice (in the hope of preventing further hospital admissions). Continuing to provide children and families with access to health information is clearly important, and we have to involve children and families in the development of this.

  • Telephone communication

So much communication took place over the telephone with follow up calls and telephone clinics. Telephone communication training is definitely something we need to consider in our nursing programmes.

  • Service appreciation

At every visit, children and families were grateful and thankful. They appeared to really value the service provided. Our children’s community nursing team certainly do a fantastic job and I hope that investment in services like this will assist with future service development.

Overall, I was pleased to learn that in university we are teaching clinical skills that match with those of the service. My time with the team did however help me to understand the problems faced by community nursing teams and see that they are great problem solvers. I now have several things to think about when I contribute to the development of out future CYP nursing curriculum.

I’d like to thank the children’s community nursing team for making me so welcome and giving me the opportunity and for inviting me to return. This is testament to the team’s commitment to ensuring future services meet the needs of children and families.

Inaugural meeting of the Social Media Special Interest Group – a move in the right direction #SUSoMe

Nursing at The University of Salford

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Monday 12th January 2015, a date to remember… the day we held our Inaugural meeting of the Social Media Special Interest Group for staff in the School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences at The University of Salford.

My name is Wendy Sinclair (@wlasinclair on Twitter), I’m a registered Children’s Nurse working as a Lecturer in Nursing at The University of Salford and I’m currently working on my PhD, exploring nurses’ online professional conduct. I’ve been interested in using social media in nurse education for over two years and in recent months I’ve definitely noticed a rapid increase of social media use within the School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Science here at the University of Salford and beyond. Having experienced the benefits of social media in nurse education I wondered how we could use social media to its full potential. Amongst other things…

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Introduction to CYP nursing: Professional standards, medicines administration and twitter

Today was spent teaching two sessions

‘Professional Standards for Children’s Nurses’ & ‘Medicines Administration’.

Both sessions are intense and require participation from the students to bring the subjects to life and so today was a great opportunity to encourage the students to participate in a different way. In addition to discussion, students were encouraged to switch on their smartphones/tablets/laptops and tweet about session content using the module hashtag #icypn.

The day started by dissecting The Code and thinking about how it applies specifically to children’s nurses. Although we didn’t intentionally apply the 6C’s, the students did identify where courage, commitment, competence, compassion, and communication fits in with maintaining professional standards. They also clearly considered the need to be Caring as this tweet asks why do we need to be told to be kind and considerate?

The students also highlighted that they struggled with the idea that nurses don’t always maintain professional standards and didn’t think that students joined the programme with intentions of dropping their standards. They wondered how, when and why this change occurs, a question with such complexities that it’s difficult to answer succinctly.

This afternoon we explored medicines administration for children’s nurses. Accurately weighing children and calculating drug doses based on weight seems to be something many of our students are concerned about, and for the sake of patient safety, rightly so. We talked about the need to be competent in numeracy skills and have confidence in those skills. The Abbott and Costello video demonstrates how we can be convinced by the confidence demonstrated by others and so we talked about the importance of independently checking drug calculations and being sure of the methods being used.

In the meantime, as students were tweeting about the sessions, they were demonstrating their professionals standards as they maintained their online professional conduct. All in all a good day!

A while ago I’d been given some @WeNurses fridge magnets and keyrings, which I gave as prizes to the day’s top tweeters! A huge thank you to @WeNurses who are sending more supplies for more of our @nursingSUni top tweeters!