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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2 thoughts on “Lecturer to Ward Manager…4 weeks on

  1. Well done Wendy – a fantastic reflection. We need more people just like you returning to clinical practice to balance the positive and negative changes made over the years

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