Nursing Times Rising Stars 2015

  A few weeks ago I was over the moon to hear that I had been selected as one of Nursing Times’ inaugural Rising Stars 2015. Today we were invited to a lovely reception at the Soho Hotel, with a truly inspiring speech from Brian Boyle (and free drinks!)
If you haven’t heard of Brian Boyle, like I hadn’t, I suggest you look him up. A healthcare advocate and motivational speaker, Brian was involved in a horrific car crash a few weeks after graduating high school. He suffered absolutely horrendous injuries and went through some gruelling months in ICU and in rehab. Amazingly not only did he pull through, which was miraculous in itself, he went in to compete in several Ironman tournaments. Ironman is an extreme triathlon event: a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile cycle, topped with a marathon at the end.

Competing in such events is admirable even if you are fit and healthy, but given Brian’s medical history it is astounding he completed one let alone several (I lost track of how many he did!). But the most inspirational aspect of his riveting presentation was not his sporting accomplishments but his genuine passion for healthcare and respect for the professionals that aided his recovery.

To hear Brian speak so highly of the nurses that looked after him filled me with such pride to be part of this profession. Although I work in a completely different area to ICU the underlying principles of providing compassionate care remain the same.

I was nominated for my work in raising awareness of mental health nursing via social media, something that I cannot take full credit for.  I have no idea who nominated me but I am eternally thankful – not for the accolade but for the recognition that what I am part of is important. I am a newly qualified nurse in my first post, not always right but trying to do the right thing. And what is so special about Nuraing Times naming 25 influential newly qualified/student nurses is that is emphasises that we do make a difference in a career that quite often gets a bad rap. 

Blogging as a staff nurse 

Being a student nurse is a multifaceted experience, which is the reason I started blogging. I felt like I had a lot to say about the different components that made up those three years, be it about my clinical placements or the academic side of nursing. Although when I started there was a lot of discussion around maintaining professional boundaries, writing about my training felt completely natural and I had no qualms about sharing the information that I did, safe in the knowledge that I was adhering to the NMC code. 

And why wouldn’t it feel natural? From day one of nursing school the benefits of reflective practice are drummed in to you alongside the principles of maintaining confidentiality. Talking about our experiences was expected of us, it just so happened that I talked about mine using different social media mediums.

Blogging as a staff nurse, however, is a completely separate ball game which is why my posts have been few and far between. Obviously I conduct myself the same way online as I would offline but it feels to me that there’s something different in the way I can talk about my experiences as a qualified nurse.

I couldn’t put my finger on it at first but after thinking about it lots I realised that my change in social media use all boils down to what I feel is expected of me now compared to when I was a student. Firstly as a student you’re constantly introduced to new experiences, be that your clinical placements or whatever is on your syllabus. Mental health was new to me and reflecting on this in a public digital space not only enabled me to make sense of these experiences but to share them with others and get their perspectives too. 

Now as a staff nurse (and a not very newly qualified nurse now at that) it is expected that I know what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. Is it appropriate for me to publicly speak about things that I find difficult when part of my professional duties as a registered nurse is to uphold the reputation of my profession? Would that mean the general public have less faith in nurses who don’t always have the right answer?

Confidentiality is harder to maintain too. It would be easy to find out where I worked and then work out if I was talking about a particular patient for example (not that I would). Quite the difference to being a student moving from service to service. 

That being said, becoming a registered nurse does not mean that developing my skills is no longer what is expected of me and I have mentioned several times how beneficial I have  found social media in terms of professional development. Why should that stop now? My transition from HCA to student to staff nurse means I have had to adjust how I work practically and the same thing applies to blogging. 

Medicine and the Arts

A few months I stumbled across this amazing sounding course on FutureLearn: Medicine and the Arts: Humansing Healthcare. Offered by the University of Cape Town, the course explores the relationship between healthcare and the arts. Prior to becoming a mental health nurse I studied English & Film at university, so this is the ultimate combination of my interests. The field of medical humanities is garnering a lot of attention and I think it is a really useful area for healthcare practitioners to explore in terms of education and of their own practice.

The course has just started this week so there is still time to sign up if you are interested.

Transition

A lot has happened since I last blogged. One of the main reasons I hadn’t posted in a while was because whilst I wanted to write about my experiences as a newly qualified mental health nurse, my feelings at the end of each shift were so different to the shift before that it felt impossible to express exactly what my thoughts were at that point in time.

I am now halfway through my preceptorship and it has certainly been a whirlwind three months. There are shifts that have gone really well and I feel really positive about what I can do; then the next shift could be absolutely awful and I feel completely useless. I seem to bounce back and forth between the two, and as much I love every minute of being a nurse there’s no denying that it’s pretty draining.

Other than the newly qualified emotional rollercoaster I just described, lots of other great things have been going on.

Firstly, I was asked to help set up @NQNBC, a resource for newly qualified nurses who want to use social media in their professional development. We’ve been a bit quiet over the festive period but hoping to pick up the pace again. There are four of each, from each respective branch of nursing, who blog about our experiences of preceptorship. As a group, newly qualifieds appear to lack presence on social media – we hope to change that.

@WeMHNurses have been going from strength to strength and have had some brilliant chats over the past few months. The stand out one for me was our consultation on the new Mental Health Act code of practice in collaboration with the Department of Health. To be part of something as important as the government taking notice of the important of social media in mental health care is truly humbling and I felt so proud to be a part of that. We have more chats planned and in March will be launching our digital book club.

Further related to social media, I have been asked to help with a social media workshop that a large mental health trust is running to encourage their staff to use social media professionally. I’m waiting to hear more about it but it’s an honour to be considered for that.

At work I have been put on a rather intense eating disorders practitioner course – 6 months long with a presentation & an assessment to finish. Being completely new to eating disorders, the course has been so helpful and truth be told I do really miss the academic side of nursing.

And finally I was completely overwhelmed to be named as one of the Health Service Journal’s 25 Rising Stars of 2014. I had absolutely no idea I was being considered for it and it came as a total shock. I love using social media to raise awareness of mental health care and wider issues surrounding nursing so it’s really nice that other people can see the value in it.

So as you can see it’s been a busy few months!

My first week.

My career as a newly qualified nurse did not get off to the speedy start I had hoped for. Once I received my results my pin arrived much quicker than I had hoped for (within a fortnight) but for various reasons I wasn’t able to begin my job until last week. After having spent the last three years running around like a headless chicken having three whole months of free time was a shock to the system and I was itching to begin work. It was worth the wait though as I am now working on an adolescent eating disorder unit. Eating disorders are completely new to me but I am looking forward to learning lots.

For my first week on the ward I was supernumerary, so I have been able to get to know the ward and get to grips with not being a healthcare assistant or student nurse anymore (which was weird!). I’ve been able to see a lot already: ward rounds, admission, medication, groups, leave. The team are really supportive and the ward has such a nice atmosphere. This week I have some mandatory training to complete before one last day of being supernumerary. I am equally scared and excited about being part of the numbers next week but I can safely say that I am going to love my new job.

 

Qualified!

I can’t believe that the day actually arrived, but as of Wednesday just gone I am now a qualified mental health nurse. Everybody said how quickly it would come around but it doesn’t feel that long ago since my first day and the three years have honestly rushed by.

For the last two weeks of August I was in holiday in Canada so I really felt like results day crept up on me very quickly. And not only will I be graduating with a first class honours degree, but I won the prize for getting the highest mark out of all of the nursing students in my cohort! It was completely unexpected but I have worked so hard on all of my assignments and I feel so happy that all my hard work paid off. It just feels very surreal to have finished.

I absolutely loved my training and I get emotional (in a good way) when I think about the last three years. Although I’m sad to have finished I have been relishing in my new found free time which feels like such a novelty right now.

So for now I am waiting for the NMC to send me my registration details and then I will be beginning my preceptorship. I’m so excited for the next chapter and already have a fair few things planned.