Thursday, 28 July 2011

"Being ill is an education.....'

Yesterday's Guardian had an interesting opinion piece by Mike Marqusee (the fuller version of which will be published in the August issue of Red Pepper at He was talking about what he has learned through his experience of living with multiple myeloma for the past 5 years. With a focus on independence/dependence, he highlights the delicate balance of attaining independence in a situation where he is (was) dependent on so many things (the advancement of science, the network of people who supported his experience, the social developments that determine the focus of care....). Key within this article for me was the quote, "I'm being kept alive by the contribution of so many currents of labour, thought, struggle, desire, imagination. By the whole Enlightenment tradition, but not only that: by older traditions of care, solidarity, mutuality, of respect for human life and compassion for human suffering." How pleasing that this person's experience reflected these human attributes that are core to caring. Whilst struggling to be autonomous, Marqusee acknowledges the need to be dependent on others in order to achieve independence through support, advocacy and allies. These are attributes for nursing and helping students to achieve their potential in these areas is vital for the continuing development of compassionate care within a highly educated workforce.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Education - Practice partnerships

One of my areas of particular interest is the partnerships that we all strive to achieve when working together to support and develop student learning. For me at the moment, my primary area of work relates to pre-registration nursing education. With the implementation of the NMC's new standards we are developing curricula that will impact on both the type of student, and the type of practitioner, that will be in practice. To achieve a joined-up approach to the development of these curricula we absolutely must work together in real partnerships to achieve meaningful integration of theory with practice. In an edition of RCN's Edlines earlier this year, I highlighted the ongoing 'divide' that students still sometimes see between what they learn in university and what they learn in practice. How can we all work together to achieve the best fit between education and practice so as to ensure that the practitioners that we educate are the ones that will work with current practitioners to take forward service developments for the enhancement of patient care?

Creating connections – using the RCN Education Forum to start debate

As a new member of the RCN Education Forum committee, I wanted to find a way to engage with the membership in Scotland where I am based. My purpose was to determine whether there was an appetite for discussion and debate around educational issues within such a forum, and if so what these might be. Additionally, I wanted to try out ways of connecting to see what might work best for professionals working in disparate working environments and with geographical remoteness. The networks that I currently have led me to think that there could be some value in creating connections with those of you who are in the Education Forum and who work in Scotland. Colleagues elsewhere are looking with interest to see how this small experiment goes.

Those of you who are Scotland-based may remember receiving an email from me (through RCN communications) asking:
·       What area of practice are you in, and what is your role as an educator?
·       What are the key issues that you think would be useful to discuss and debate at a national level through this forum as Scotland based members?
·       Do you see any further benefits (on top of an opportunity for discussion and debate) to coming together (probably virtually) as Scotland based members? If so, what do you see as these benefits?

I have been delighted with the response to the email and provide here an overview of the issues that people have raised and on which they would value further discussion. Those who responded came from a wide variety of backgrounds: Telemedicine, Practice Nursing, Practice Educator and Clinical Nurse Educator roles, Research, Academic roles, NHS24, Theatre, Addiction Services, Community, Learning and Development. Many of us have strategic links with bodies such as the Scottish Government Health Directorates, NHS Education for Scotland, and NHS Scotland.

A number of particular challenges were identified associated with specific specialities (for example the challenges associated with accessing relevant dietetic input and the problems surrounding obesity in Scotland, and challenges relating to student nurses gaining access to full placement experiences with practice nurses). In addition, more general challenges were highlighted and these will probably be familiar to all of us – the impact of the economic environment on staff development and quality, and something around the challenges associated with sharing practice and thereby enabling others to access tools, approaches, and education rather than ‘reinventing the wheel’.

There appears to be a great deal of interest in having a ‘Scottish’ voice within a UK context – personally I see this as a Scotland-based voice which may facilitate wider discussion across the UK where we face similar challenges and opportunities albeit within political contexts that vary. As one person suggested, our connection could be a means to influence local, Scotland-wide and UK educational and professional networks. Of particular interest to those who responded to my email were some of the following issues:
  • Telehealth and education for undergraduate nurses, and qualified nurses.
  • Advanced Practice and Health Care Support Worker – roles and regulation.
  • Assessment competence within NHS24.
  • Support of the NHSScotland Quality Strategy.
  • Harmonisation of skills education to avoid duplication.
  • Nationally recognized generic awareness of addiction practices.
  • Newly-qualified roles and support in practice.
  • Use of guidelines.
  • Partnerships between education practice, and how we can blur those boundaries (something that I have written on in Edlines before).
  • The implementation of the new NMC Standards for Pre-registration Nursing Education.
  • Dissemination of processes and knowledge gained through the development of education and training.
  • Opportunity for networking.

What this tells me is that we are looking to connect - we are confirming that we want to debate important issues, and we are recognizing that networking virtually with colleagues across the country could add value to our working practices.

Taking this forward this professional blog aims to provide a forum where we can get agitated and creative and celebratory about what we need to change, how we can change it, and what we are achieving in our daily working lives.

I look forward to further engagement with my colleagues, and hope that the connections we create will also create something new in our thinking in Scotland.

Sunday, 17 July 2011


Welcome to my new blog. As you will see, the aim is to create some debate and discussion around the issues that are important to nursing education. I plan to post once a week so that we can connect with each other regularly. As a committee member of the RCN Education Forum, I will be inviting my colleagues from the forum to engage with the discussion in the first instance. 
See you soon. Going live this week.