An educational journey

It felt like a good time to pause the career pathway blog and talk a little about the educational courses I’ve done so far in my career. Each one was not only beneficial to what I was doing at the time but sparked an inspiration that led to the next move.

Before my nurse training I really struggled with learning. Sitting in a class room being talked at was no good for me, nor was being left on my own to read up up on subjects. But place me in a room with a group to work with and spark off really worked for me.

Nurse training was therefore perfect, but completing the three years of this was just the start.

Within each area I worked there was always a number of training courses that stood out for me above the mandatory and required training. These were the must have, shiny course jewels on your CV. The kind of courses that really stretched your thinking

Once I’d completed the induction booklet and had a good grounding in the care of critically unwell patients I really wanted to do the ENB100 – the national standard in ITU nurse training. But this took time to get upon and there was a long queue of people ahead of me. The next best choice was the advanced cardiac life support course.

This consisted of three days of training and simulation based scenarios with a practical test at the end. This was a great course that really advanced my knowledge. We covered a great range of topics such as how to replace trachesostomies, water side resuscitation scenarios and complex arrhythmia management. Gaining the knowledge was fantastic but learning and then actually putting it in practice was even better. It gave me great confidence to look after the really sick patients and attain better control during resuscitation episodes.

Throughout my time in ITU I had these two books by my bed. I’d use them to add to what I had learnt over the shift, applying theory to practice. Through doing this I learnt to enjoy studying by bring the books alive with real life scenarios.

Each day I’d add what I’d learnt to a little pocket book. Whether it was inotrope dosing, antibiotic regimes or trying to make sense of a key point of physiology, I added it to the book. It was a great way to learn and reflect. Even now I keep a little book of learning, it’s great for reflective practice.

With my move into theatres I could see the next step, education wise, would be a theatre course. Fate had other plans for me however, see this blog for more details I knew once I’d settled into the ITU at Bournemouth it was time to start working towards the ENB course. It was clear from the number of staff at the next grade above I would have to bide my time and wait, for this Unit you needed to be an E grade with at least 3 years experience under your belt.

So by the time it came to me doing the course, the focus had shifted. Universities were delivering their own versions of this and Bournemouth University was one of them. With the awesome ITU lecture practitioner from RBCH as one of the tutors, plus other local interested consultants and nurses, it was a really great course and made the most of local experts to deliver it. The course was not just lecture based but also offered placements on a Neurosurgical intensive care (felt like going back to Walton) and a Paediatric ITU (confirmed this was not the kind of place I could work, the patients were way too small for me to cope with!).

A few years later I found myself acting up as a lecture practitioner covering maternity leave. Through this I got to teach on a small module at the same university to where I’d studied, There was a gap for someone to cover chest x-Ray interpretation and how to read ECG’s and I really enjoyed the experience. Teaching on a 1 to 1 basis as well as in the class room really appealed to me.

No prizes for guessing this one!

For a long time after this I considered a career in nurse education. Despite genuinely enjoying listening more than talking I really enjoyed explaining and teaching within healthcare. However the jobs didn’t seem to be as secure as a job within the hospitals. I think this is where I realised that being in a specialist post would suit me, the kind of job that demands lots of teaching and sharing of information to fulfil it.

The move to risk management achieved this for me in part but I realised after a while that I needed more of a clinical focus to what I was doing. However, learning more about health and safety through completing the NEBOSH course I completed and various other courses on how incidents happen within healthcare, really helped me to deliver the IOSH course with fellow risk management colleagues.

As a Trust, we were one of a few in the country that could do this. It was a long three day course to teach but it was great to work with ward leaders and managers looking at their incidents and jointly developing solutions to reduce their occurrence.

And so to being a health protection nurse specialist. There was a lot of training within this job but the best part was going to the University of Birmingham to study for a Masters in Health Protection. Two years of commuting back and forth was really hard on my little family but I got to meet some great people and, at that point, could see a career in epidemiology folding out in front of me.

One key week in all the sessions over the two years still frames my thinking now. This was delivered by directors of public health from the surrounding area. As a group we spent a long time getting to know who we were and how we could use our personality traits to get the best out of the work we were expected to deliver. Lots of MBTI work and reflection were required! John Middleton was one of the directors that stood out for me as a real character. He challenged the way we thought and really pushed for us to consider alternative  approaches to everyday problems. He also set us a challenge to pick a book that stretched our minds every other book we read. I still try to keep to this challenge…

On a snowy day in 2011 I graduated. It was a very proud day for me and my wife.