Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Back from Malawi.....

I have been remiss in keeping up my blog over the past few weeks - partly due to the lack of internet connection for some of the time that we were in Malawi. I thought that some readers may be interested in what we achieved, and some reflections on the overall experience. Our Scottish Government International Development Fund project focuses on the provision and retention of midwives in rural areas of Malawi. The achievement of the MDG-5 is an ongoing priority for the Government of Malawi and there continues to be real concerns about the maternal and infant mortality rates as described in this in-depth country analysis. The Government has introduced a new cadre of midwifery workers - the Community Midwifery Technician (CMT) - whose role focuses on midwifery care in rural areas. It is an 18-month programme and the first cohort of students has already completed.

The purpose of this most recent visit to Malawi was to undertake a syllabus review of the CMT programme as there had been some recognition of potential 'gaps' in the learning. In addition, we had been asked to work with the Colleges and the NMC, Malawi to develop a learning package for mentorship as there is an urgent requirement for these CMTs to receive mentoring as students and as newly qualified CMTs. We achieved what we set out to do, and the documents are with the Ministry of Health in Malawi as we speak. From a  personal learning perspective it was an amazing trip that taught me as much about myself as it did about the context that we were working in. We facilitated the sessions with colleagues from the Colleges and from the NMC and worked hard to ensure that the outcomes and outputs were what the people in the room were looking for and what they thought would work. The cultural learning for me was immense having never worked outside of Europe, the States and Australasia.

It is a three-year collaborative project with our Malawian collaborators taking a leading role in its monitoring and evaluation. I look forward to what comes next and hope that together we can make a difference in a small way, but with potential for learning more widely.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Midwifery in Malawi

I am on my way to Malawi (currently delayed in Ethiopia) for my first trip for a project which we are doing in partnership with University of Aberdeen and Ministry of Health Malawi. For this trip we are undertaking a curriculum review of the Community Midwives Training in collaboration with the Nurses and Midwives Council of Malawi (and other stakeholders). In addition, we are working with colleagues to develop a mentorship programme - both for those supporting the CMTs currently, and for integration into existing educational programmes with the aim of building capacity and capability. Maternal and infant mortality is still a real problem in Malawi - particularly in rural areas where the focus of this project lies. Ideally the Ministry of Health and the NMC are hoping to recruit and retain qualified midwives in rural areas so as to improve the mortality and morbidity.

It is going to be a fascinating week - one where I will personally experience many different things, not least my first experience of Africa. If anyone is reading this who has experience of similar work, I would be delighted to hear from you.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Patient-satisfaction or person-centred leadership?

We are all engaged with policy that emphasises person-centred care (for example, The Health Care Quality Strategy for NHSScotland). Reflecting on some of my previous posts, and the national focus on care, I am interested in unpicking what we mean by person-centredness when we work with students. Clinical leadership aims to create the conditions where person-centred care can thrive and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement discusses leadership within this context in its bulletin this week (for those who are not signed up to it, I recommend it as a forum where useful discussion and debate takes place). Morag Bisognano is the President and CEO of the Institute (and someone that I have seen present a couple of times - a good example of leadership impacting in practice) and writes in an article, "Perhaps the central questions for leaders are: What really matters to patients and families? Is our organization engaged in patient-centred leadership or patient-satisfaction leadership?" The general thrust of the argument is that when we are focused on achieving 'good' patient satisfaction, we may miss out on the issues that really matter to patients and families and may impact on improvements (where patient-centredness is not also a key driver). Some may feel that this is a matter of semantics, but I believe that the use of words reflects complimentary but differing philosophical perspectives. The measures of satisfaction are usually determined by professionals whereas person-centredness puts the patient (rather obviously) at the centre of any conversation about care. If we help our students to appreciate the need to genuinely listen to patients and families, and enable them to develop the skills to do this, we will push forward person-centredness as the way of being as a health professional.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Start of semester - and enthusiasm for learning

It's the start of semester - my second favourite time of the year (the first being graduation as I love seeing the students walk proudly across the podium to celebrate their achievements). I met with three of my dissertation students to get to know them a bit, discuss expectations (theirs and mine) and to work out how we can work together (and individually) to achieve their ambitions (they all want to achieve first class Honours degrees, and more importantly they are very clear that they want to make a difference to patient care). I always come away from these kinds of sessions feeling enthused and motivated - firstly, the women that I met are all seriously focused on achieving all they can and to enhancing care. Secondly, as a teacher I learn something from my students whenever I come into contact with them. The three of them are all going to be exploring very different subjects and I know that the learning journey for us all will be fulfilling and rewarding.

As a consequence of this meeting, I reflected (again!) on the issues surrounding poor care and the 'blame' that is sometimes laid at the door of pre-registration nursing education. Without going into the latter issue again (although I am sure that I will touch on it again as I am about to be getting involved in some interesting work around values-based selection of students), I am very interested in what sometimes happens when nurses have been in particular practice situations for a period of time. Do they really change their outlook and their approach to care? Do they move on from areas where poorer care is experienced thus leaving gaps where their knowledge, enthusiasm and commitment once were? Is poor care really related to their education, and have we simply not prepared them for what's ahead (not what I have experienced and the feedback that I regularly get about the students I know does not reflect this latter point). I know there are multiple arguments, theories, views on why poor care happens (and I have highlighted some of these in previous posting), but I remain baffled by the reports and the evidence that seems to demonstrate that sometimes nurses do not give the care that they should.

One of my goals as an educator is to provide a level of inspiration that students can hold onto and improve as they make their way into nursing practice as qualified practitioners. I know that my colleagues do the same. The photo is one of mine - a beautiful sunset over the Basin in Montrose - an image to reflect inspiration and what I believe is a need to continually work towards improving role modelling behaviours as educators and leaders in practice.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Reflections on caring - learning for education

My daughter has just been discharged after a short emergency stay in hospital. As always, it is absolutely fascinating to experience care from the other side and I always learn so much - both from what I have seen done very well and from those aspects of the experience that I think could have been done better. This experience led me to reflect (in the car on the way home) about the place of experience in student learning. There is much out there where patient stories provide meaningful accounts that enable learning (for example Patient Voices which I think I have mentioned here before) and I have used these kinds of resources effectively with students. But what about our own experiences - is there a place for us to use these experiences in some way to facilitate learning? I don't advocate that we should stand in front of a group of students and tell them about particular personal situations, but the learning that I have gained should be of some use, shouldn't it?

What I learnt over the past few days (things that I already knew but which were illuminated during this time):

  • the way in which nurses speak to relatives on the phone (I was on holiday in Greece at the time of my daughter's admission) is so important. Letting the relative know that they are welcome to contact the ward at any time is so reassuring.
  • providing information to the patient (and repeating that information if needed) with patience is crucial to the feeling of security in an alien environment.
  • appearing to have time to answer questions etc at the point of discharge empowers both the patient and the relative.
All of these are small things but indicate the care and compassion that I have spoken about before on my blog. Being present in a ward (as a visitor) exposed me to the day-to-day interactions and actions of the nurses and others in a way that is so powerful. In England the Department of Health has developed a consultation/discussion document which aims to embed a culture of compassion (amongst other things) within nursing and other healthcare. I don't think there will be many things in the document that we could disagree with particularly - but what I want to do is really think about the proposals for the enactment of the intentions/vision. How can we make sure that the nurse provides a close interaction with the patient and the relative at point of discharge for example? And how can we ensure that the education that we offer enables students to work with patients and others so that they are empowered partners in the care experience?

Friday, 14 September 2012

Late winter sunshine - an academic's break

I am just preparing for my last-gasp 'summer' break - Kefalonia to set me up for the winter. I love  late summer sun and sea leaving me energised. I've got a few things to think about while I am away:
- my birthday resolution which is to read all the Booker prize winners (Margaret Atwood and AS Byatt are packed);
- the article I am writing with an Australian colleague - developing a theoretical stance on partnership working which we are going to test out collaboratively with my local Director of Nursing;
- the final part of my Florence Nightingale Foundation/Burdett Trust scholarship - bringing the learning together. If anyone out there is looking for any leadership development, you might want to consider FNF - an amazing experience for me personally and for the good friends that I have made over the year.
- my imminent (November) Malawi trip - anyone out there with experience of Malawi or of developing/evaluating educational and mentorship initiatives in developing countries..... please get in touch!
- the final report for my NHS Education for Scotland funded project on the selection of students.

I am looking forward to the clear blue skies, the sea and the mountains, and the time for thinking and relaxing. I know that I will come back ready for the new academic session. Exciting times! (Mind you, I'm not sure that even the Greek Islands can get much more beautiful than a sunset in Stonehaven with friends).

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Missing NET2012.... And Tweeting

It's that time of year again - NET 2012 in Cambridge (and incidentally my birthday! - reminds me of when I went to school in England and I always went back after the summer holidays on or around my birthday...). I have a paper for presentation at the conference on the work of the NES Recruitment and Retention Delivery Group which Mike Sabin is presenting on our behalf. We think it will be of interest nationally (and more widely), particularly in relation to the work we have done on data enhancement and ongoing work on selection of students. There seems to be an appetite nationally to invest our energies in understanding values-based selection, and the Delivery Group is collaborating nationally on this area.

I am sorry to be missing NET for a number of reasons - it's always good to present one's ideas/research in a supportively challenging environment, along with the genuine opportunities to make meaningful connections with like-minded colleagues. As well as those important reasons, I love Cambridge where I did my own training.

On to Tweeting - As well as being quite new to blogging, I have taken to Twitter (@ruthft1). As an introvert (see previous postings), I am getting into Twitter in the same way that I do with relationships - slowly but surely. I have found it to be a fantastic resource for policy developments and wider debate as well as the creation of connections with people that I might not otherwise have been in contact with. If you're interested in 140 character discussion, I'd be delighted to see you following me so that we can 'talk' on subjects of interest. In the meantime, I will be keeping my eye on Twitter for the chat that will be coming from NET2012, and will look forward to catching up with my colleagues when they get back.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Other people's views - working with patients who are 'different' from ourselves

George Galloway finally seems to have lost the plot in his recent statements regarding rape. This blog post is not really about what he has to say, except to say that I am personally outraged by what he (and similar others) have been saying. It is hurtful and offensive. These feelings set me thinking about what happens when we work with patients who hold different views from ourselves - on issues that are fundamental to the way we see the world. How do we work with our student nurses to enable them to deal with the tension that can sometimes exist when we have to hear and experience the views of others that sit uncomfortably with our own world views? For me this issue relates to the focus on caring and compassion that I have had running through many of my postings. My perspective is that it is possible to offer compassionate care even in circumstances that are personally challenging. The education of nurses involves the development of self-awareness, interpersonal skills, awareness of others and their needs, and a real focus on person-centredness. Delivering compassionate care can be learned in my opinion - I think that as long as the nurse has the fundamental characteristics required for compassionate care, the skills required for the enactment of that compassion can be learned. We need to help our students understand that patients have many views, characteristics and values - and each person is a complex mix. So, even though I cannot bear the thought of George Galloway today, I know that I could deliver compassionate care to him if I needed to.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Willis Commission - impact for education

A brief blog as I am just back from Nice and settling back into a different mode of being..... Was interested and very encouraged to see that degree nurses are not 'too posh to wash'. In other words, enhancing the education of nursing students does not appear to compromise their ability to be compassionate. It's my usual soapbox but I (and many of my colleagues who I discuss this with) know this. However, it is great that these early findings seem to bear out what many of us have been saying - that we need to ensure that our nursing workforce are highly educated. Of course, we must all place an emphasis on person-centred compassionate care as we work with our students in the university and in practice.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Understanding others

I have just finished reading The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (which won the Man Booker prize in 2011). It's a bit tenuous to link my leisure reading into a professional blog but I thought I would give it a try anyway! It is a short book - a novella that took me a few hours to read - but (uncommonly for me) I went straight back to page 1 on completing it. I found it impacted on me in a way that doesn't often happen by compellingly taking me into one person's story. For those who haven't read the book, it is a story told by a man looking back over his life, acknowledging the tricks that memory can play, but emphasising the impact that one's experiences can have (whether correctly remembered or not) on choices that are then played out over a lifetime. For me, the feeling that the book has left me with is a renewed appreciation of the complexities of seemingly straightforward lives, the hidden depths of people's experiences that may not be obvious to the casual bystander (or the health professional), and the assumptions that we can make about people's motivations and choices in life. We obviously can't do in-depth interviews with our patients to uncover their life experiences, but for me the book highlighted that we need to take time to understand people as best as we can so that we can at least attempt to put ourselves in the shoes of others when caring for them - an impossible task I know. I don't often get to my leisure reading these days, but I must do so more often as good books help me to appreciate and understand people and ideas better.

Friday, 13 July 2012

"What can and should be done about nursing?"

Articles in the Independent newspaper draw attention to the widespread views of the public and some in the nursing profession of the concerns regarding the standards of care. The general view of the author seems to be that things have gone wrong, and that the way in which we educate nursing students plays a large part in the 'glaring deficiencies' in some practice areas. To balance the negativity the author does highlight that there are 'many excellent nurses and many inspirational examples'.

While I am in complete agreement that we must always evaluate practice and offer the highest standards of care, I continue to find it disappointing that so much of the rhetoric surrounding the evident problems is focused on a supposed change in compassion and empathy (in simplistic terms, nurses used to have compassion and empathy, but now they don't). Interesting that one person who was interviewed for one of the pieces suggests that nursing is a 'basic instinct' in some people, and not rocket science. What I have noticed about myself as a nurse, and my students, is that the educational process facilitates the development of core skills and knowledge for practice, and also enables us to develop as people within the professional context. The combination of high-level knowledge and skills required for nursing practice within this current context alongside compassion, caring, empathy, convinces me that university education (properly developed, implemented and evaluated for practice) is the only way that we can drive up standards. When I say 'university education', I am referring to the essential collaborative approach for education - with students, patients, carers, others. Ever the optimist, I remain convinced that most of the people who choose to come into nursing do so for the best reasons, and that we as educators have the tools to facilitate the development of their potential.

Once again I was privileged to sit on the graduation stage yesterday which our students walked across with pride. My own personal tutor group were amongst those completing and I can honestly say that I would have no hesitation in leaving the care of any of my family or friends in their hands. These intelligent, caring, thoughtful and well-developed individuals are a credit to the profession. It is my hope that people like these continue to work hard to impact positively on practice and to help to make the changes where these are required.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Professionalism in nursing

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has been in the headlines this morning with news of its failings. As registrants we have been aware of the issues facing the NMC for some time now, but the news puts the story firmly in the public spotlight. It will be interesting to see how the NMC shapes up as they make changes and interesting to see that already they have withdrawn the NMC professional advice service so as to avoid confusion relating to their role as regulator. From my perspective, it is not good news for the professions to see the NMC in this situation. It is likely that this story will add fuel to the media fire about standards of care with assumptions potentially being made about the state of nursing itself.

I am sure we all want to see nursing's profile raised positively and as educators (in universities and in practice) we work hard with students to provide them with the learning opportunities that will enable them to operate as professional, caring, compassionate and intelligent nurses. As I've said before on my blog, I am really interested in working towards a situation where we are able to select students who have the potential for all these qualities - I am doing a funded project on a related area. I don't want to give the impression that we haven't been selecting the right people - we have in most cases I think. But there is a need for us to hone our decision-making so that we ensure that we continue to drive up standards of care across all the settings in which we operate.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

All is quiet....

It's the time of year when the university building is very quiet with most of our students either out in practice or on their summer break. It is a time for reflection and preparation for the new semester where we will welcome our progressing students back, as well as the new students who commence a range of courses here in my institution. As well as these things, the 'summer' period (not sure whether to call it summer this year!) is time for scholarship and research - both work on existing projects as well as time to work up ideas to take forward in the next session for funding bids. Although busy, there is a sense of a 'pause' in overt activity (i.e. running from teaching sessions, to student meetings, to staff meetings, to......) and I was wondering about our degree students with their 45 week academic year (outwith our circle of influence as this is prescribed) - they never get a pause in any sense of the word throughout their three years as far as I can see. Yes, they have annual leave - but for most of them this will probably involve study, work, family care..... We work hard to ensure that we offer students support in all sorts of areas of their lives (through our personal tutor system, central university services etc.), but I do wonder if the unstinting focus on their course (alongside everything else they do) may be detrimental to their experience as a student.

Friday, 15 June 2012

On the receiving end......

I walked the MoonWalk last weekend in Edinburgh and am proud to say that I finished within our target timeframe (under 7 hours - the bottlenecks would not allow us to maintain our 15 minute average). We set out in the rain, and felt our poor old joints stiffening as we approached the 20 mile mark. I spent the last 6 miles wishing that something would happen that would merit the intervention of a paramedic.....but thankfully this was not required (thanks to my new Jack White album for distraction therapy!). However, I woke to a painful foot on Monday. Inter-professional working is alive and kicking in my institution, as my physiotherapy colleagues helpfully provided me with strapping and crutches - and a diagnosis. I was advised to attend my local A and E and now am reflecting on the way in which I reverted to disempowered and compliant patient mode. I apologised for bothering the doctor, did not press when I was given a diagnosis that did not make sense, and left without any discussion about how the wearing of trainers would enable me to weight bear. It was an interesting experience that, for me, sheds some light on the patient experience and what matters. Of course we want to be dealt with by people with the knowledge that ensures that we receive the correct treatment (and usually we take this for granted and rightly so). But if we take 'correct care' as a given, then my priority is compassionate care - even in a situation which is not life and death but one which impacts on my own personal lifestyle and work needs. Education for compassionate care is at the forefront of my thinking at the moment - as health professionals we need to be providing evidence-based care within a compassionate framework of working practice. We are grappling with this every day as we work with our students to enable them to become the best they can be.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Making up women's educational leadership

I have just completed a leadership course and it has helped me in many different ways. It was a leadership course for women. One thing that I found difficult to get my head around though is the emphasis that is placed on appearance and its relationship to impact as a leader. I am not naive - I do fully appreciate the need to present oneself in an appropriate manner. And I know the theory about how little the recipient is said to receive from what one says - rather it is how you present your message (and that includes appearance) that is most important. As a non make-up wearer it is a little disconcerting to constantly hear that dressing up to enhance one's femininity is important in leadership. We talked about authenticity, and no-one was saying to me that I wouldn't make it as a leader without make-up. But there is a fairly common view that it's a bit odd not to want to present oneself in a more traditional manner. I know that male leaders will have input to help them with their personal appearance so as to make the desired impact, but we would never get as personal as the make-up issue with men.

As a nurse educator I talk to my students about the importance of appearance - in relation to their roles in practice and the impact that appearance can have on how the patient will receive them. I also make sure that - when I am in the lecture theatre or in group classroom situations - I dress appropriately as a role model for students. In national meetings, I also am aware of the dress code and pretty much adhere to it. But - we should be advocating for women as leaders who have something important to say, and should not be perpetuating the ways in which men and women have dealt with appearance differently.

A very personal perspective........

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

RCN Education Commission

Lord Willis has said that 'it is absolutely imperative that nurses are provided with the right education and skills to equip them for the role'. Peter Carter believes that nursing education (pre-registration) should be examined so that it can be improved in ways that will facilitate better care. Key to the current debate that is going on, is that compassion and dedication to the profession need to be strengthened. I am particularly interested in these areas - and I believe that most students are compassionate and are working towards their qualification for the right reason. However, what the debate continues to highlight is the need to ensure that we bring people on to our courses that have the potential to achieve not just the academic requirements, but also the development of those characteristics that somehow 'make' a nurse. I am a strong advocate of the need to ensure that nursing students are educated to degree level - and for that reason we must ensure that we select intelligent people with the capacity to achieve the intellectual requirements for nursing. As well as that, we need to find ways to select people with the potential to enhance care continually, people who are strong advocates of the profession and the patients (and others) that they work with, and people who will have the ability to lead the practice of the future. We cannot, of course, leave all these things to the process of selection. Our education must provide the environment to allow people to flourish and to grow personally and professionally. I am certainly not complacent and will always strive to improve my own practice as an educator, but I do feel that the educators that I work with and that I know are all committed to ensuring that the students who exit are programmes are the best nurses that they can be.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Introversion in leadership

Anyone who has been reading my blog will know that I have been doing some leadership development. What has been absolutely fascinating to me in all of this, is the work I have done to help me to better understand myself. The theory and profiling that I have done is not unfamiliar to me, but the way in which we have been learning has been high impact. Group work involving the women leaders (my peers in my course) has enabled me to both understand why I feel, act and think in the ways that I do, as well as to better appreciate the perspectives of others. As one of the few introverts (Myers-Briggs definition) in the group, I have done some further reading around the area. I am particularly interested in the work of Susan Cain who herself is an introvert. I am currently reading her book (Quiet: The Power of Introverts) and it has really made me stop and think about how we organise learning in universities. We ask our students to work in small and large groups and in my experience offer students very little time to work quietly in the university environment. Yes - there are 'gaps' in the timetable and defined guided study. But I don't think that we properly consider the needs of introverts in what is a world that values extroversion. Susan Cain's work is a fascinating start in my thoughts around this area. Mainly I am happy that I am normal and not weird in the ways that I thought I was!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Students - aren't they amazing!

I have just finished marking some student dissertations today. As always, I come away from this process feeling that nursing education leads to the development of individuals who demonstrate strong academic ability, thoughtfulness in relation to the evidence-base, and commitment to the profession through their engagement with the learning process. I hope that they keep the attitudes, skills and characteristics that they have developed over the past 4 years as they move into newly-qualified roles in practice. One of the areas that interests me is how people's attitudes can change as they work in clinical areas. I realise that the last sentence is a sweeping statement and one which only applies to some people. However, I am optimistic that the change to the NMC Standards (and therefore to the education that we are all providing) will impact positively on practice - through students who are prepared for the realities of contemporary (and future) practice, and through a shift in perspective that should impact on the way in which nursing is viewed across the multi-professional team.

Friday, 30 March 2012

The UK policy divide?

I make a very obvious statement here - health policy is becoming increasingly divided across the UK nations. The stark contrast between the conversations that I was listening to amongst colleagues in London, and those that we conduct in Scotland seem to be pulling us further apart. I don't really wish to make too much of a political statement (as how can I on the one hand wish for greater similarity/joined-upness while feeling relieved that Scotland's health policy isn't that of England's?). However, it has been very interesting for me to be exposed to the realities of the changes in England - albeit vicariously through my colleagues' experiences - and to appreciate the testing times that are faced across the health sector in England. That is not to underestimate the challenges in Scotland - and the similarities in relation to the need to ensure that we deliver safe, effective person-centred care in challenging contexts. Educationally speaking, we will need to ensure that we prepare our students so that they have a voice and can use their voices to influence policy in a way that doesn't seem to have happened recently in England (despite their voices being heard, health professionals have not managed to impact in the way they would have wished in relation to the current health policy). Part of the process of transformation through education includes, for me, the development of confidence, skills and knowledge to enable our students to engage effectively with policy debate.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

A tiny impact on professionalism

This may sound like a bit of a rant, but I wish that people would greet me properly when they email me. If I get a simple 'Ruth'  without a hello, hi or dear I feel like I would if the person was shouting to me down a corridor. 'Hey' is common amongst students - it must be a sign of getting older, but hey used to indicate something negative (hey, you!). Maybe it's not important but it feels like a little bit of professionalism slips away when emails address me without a simple greeting of hi/hello/dear. We as educators are role models for our students. We are also part of a caring profession. When a small slip in communication occurs (even when the communication is virtual), for me there is an equal slip towards dissatisfaction with an interaction. We all know that many complaints in healthcare stem from poor communication. Personally, I think it helps if we always use a respectful approach when dealing with people - formally, informally, electronically, in person.
Thank you for reading!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Thinking about compassion

I've been a bit quiet on the blog for a couple of reasons - returning from my trip to Australia and catching up, thinking about how best to engage through the blog with the wider academic community, and considering what I want to say about what I have been reading recently regarding compassion and education.

It seems to me that most commentators disconnect compassion from education. It is almost as if it is (probably) ok to educate nurses to degree level, but we mustn't forget about compassion (the implication for me is that compassion and education are two separate entities). I can't think of any educator that I know who would not consider that compassion/caring/attitudes/professional values etc etc were not an integral part of the degree level education that we offer students. I firmly believe that compassion should be part of the overall academic development of a student - graduate attributes reflect certain characteristics and for nursing it seems absolutely appropriate that we name this as something that we aspire to with all our graduates. I fully appreciate that nursing students need to have certain inherent characteristics. But I also strongly believe that a good education (in the university alongside practice) can assist students to develop compassion as part of an overall evidence-based approach to working with patients and others in practice.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

In the land down under

Have recently arrived in Sydney Australia for the second phase of my study tour (phase 1 was Seattle). I've met up with some excellent colleagues at University of Technology Sydney. We may be on the opposite ends of the globe, but we all seem to be grappling with similar issues. I was interested to hear about UTS's push to increase research capacity within what was once a mainly teaching focused organisation. They seem to be having great success in this - through established researchers and the development of new researchers. I look forward to finding out more.

I've had a chance to hear a bit more about pre-registration nursing education in Australia and the most striking difference that I have found so far is that students do around 860 hours clinical practice in UTS over their 3 years (as opposed to the 2300 hours required in the UK). I'm looking forward to meeting with colleagues to discuss practice and some of the challenges that I've already heard about - not least the capacity in practice to take students.

The sun isn't shining, but Sydney is warm and welcoming!

Monday, 16 January 2012


I am currently preparing for a trip to Australia - to Sydney - and to meet with colleagues at the University of Technology Sydney as part of my Florence Nightingale Foundation leadership scholarship. It's an exciting prospect, not least because I was last in Sydney in 1987 when my friend Sarah and I packed our bags after we had qualified and set off to see the world. We saw quite a bit of that world in Sydney when we worked as agency nurses in Kings Cross Hospital. Having only been qualified for 6 months, we certainly felt that we learnt a lot about all sorts of specialties, and about management of care in an international setting. I have  always remembered those experiences, and value the learning even now. One of the amazing things about choosing a career in nursing is the opportunities that exist for us internationally. Some of the students that are in my personal tutor group, and who finish this year, hope to travel at some point in their career. I hope they do - as moving out of our comfort zone brings something extra into our professional practice when we come home again.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year

Just a short message to wish everyone a happy new year - may 2012 be the best year for all of us.