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Many students are not keen on undertaking an away placement – they may think it’s inconvenient, expensive, and that it won’t really add much to their learning or contribute to their future practice. But it’s not at all, it’s a great experience that everyone should try, if they can.
I was lucky enough to be able to rent a room for the duration of my placement from my mentor who runs a guest house as well as being a district nurse. My room was lovely, I got breakfast and dinner, and had access to everything I needed including the washing machine, ironing board etc. I really couldn’t have asked for better accommodation and hosts.
Travelling from Stirling to Barra is quite a long journey, around 10 hours, if you go by train and ferry, which is the cheapest option, around £25 single. The ferry journey can be quite boring so I would advise taking a book or something to do. I’d also recommend taking a blanket and pillow so you can sleep because the seats are also quite uncomfy. When you arrive at Castlebay one of the nurses will probably collect you and take you to your accommodation, otherwise there are buses and taxis which can be pre-booked.
The other option is to get the plane from Glasgow airport to Barra, it is quite expensive between £30 and £75 single depending on how far in advance you book from Flybe, but it only takes about an hour. The plane is tiny – seats around 20 including the pilot. It is a really good experience though as Barra has the only tidal airport in the world – the beach is the runway!
The Island has a 5-bed hospital called St. Brendan’s. The hospital includes 3 single rooms and 1 twin room, a treatment room, a physio room and a dentist. The community nurses are also in the same building and have their own room upstairs.
There is one doctor who is on call 24/7 and is based in the GP surgery which is around 0.5 miles from the hospital, though new plans are currently being developed to build a new hospital which will house everybody together to make working as a team easier.
Within the hospital everything is nurse led as there are no other health professionals which are constant on the island. All Physio therapists, occupational therapists, dieticians, speech and language therapists etc. are all mostly based on the isle of Lewis in Stornoway which is the main hospital for the western isles, and they visit Barra occasionally. There is also only 1 midwife on the island, who only works 7 hours per week, and only 1 health visitor who is very willing to take student nurses on visits and also to baby clinics – I even got to go on the ferry to the Isle of Uist to visit a few new born babies!
During my time in Barra there weren’t many patients, but I got to spend time with lots of different healthcare professionals – health visitor, midwife, diabetic nurse, practice nurse, community nurses. There were also lots of training days whilst I was there – management of the acutely ill patient, psychoactive substances, continence management and advanced life support. So, although it might be quiet compared to Forth Valley there are plenty of opportunities to keep you busy.
The island itself has very few shops and amenities, so if you do go to Barra I’d recommend bringing everything you need. The islanders are very friendly and welcoming, but during the winter there isn’t much to do. There are, however, many events during the summer such as a festival and various fetes/open days, and the beaches are lovely as well, even in the winter.
Overall, I’d definitely recommend going to the Isle of Barra for a placement, to experience how it’s done in a remote and rural area.
Holly McMurray, 2nd year Adult Student Nurse
University of Stirling
Published 13 April 2016
Shetland has something for everybody, with the northern lights, amazing scenery, wild weather and low crime, and stunning wildlife. Working as an Advanced Nurse Practitioner across these islands offers a new dimension to nursing. I currently work on an island called Bressay.
Bressay is classed as a non-doctor island, thus the role of the nurse is key in the delivery of primary health care. Shetland has 5 non doctor islands – Bressay, Fair Isle, Foula, Fetlar, and Skerries. Each island has a resident nurse who provides a 24 hour service, thus providing all first contact, chronic health management and emergencies. Each island has a varied population ranging from the very young to the elderly, thus nursing practice has to be up-to-date and transverse across age ranges. Each island is only accessible vie ether boat or plane. These island nurses are supported by a General Practitioner who visits, but this can easily be hampered by the weather. Each island, apart from Bressay, has a nurse’s clinic where all up-to-date resources are at the disposal of the resident nurses; this allows for health care delivery to be tailored to meet the needs of individual patients.
This role of the non-doctor island nurse is unique to Scotland. There is very little known about these unique nursing roles. In 2012 I commenced a Clinical Doctorate in nursing with the University of Stirling; this has enabled me to explore the role of non-doctor islands and its uniqueness to nursing practice. The Doctorate has enabled me to reflect on my own practice and allowed me to critically analyse my own clinical areas and the importance that it plays across primary care delivery. I have commenced my final piece of work for the programme; the aim is to explore the role of nurses on these non-doctor islands. We know at this time that remote and rural healthcare practices have significant recruitment and retention difficulties; the aim is to explore what attracts and retains nurses across non-doctor islands. This will allow for strategic planning of service delivery as part of the 2020 vision.
I moved to Shetland in 2014. I trained in Liverpool at Edge Hill University and qualified as a nurse in 2004 and since then I have taken many pathways along the way. I started as a staff nurse in Accident and Emergency, I then took up a lecturer practitioner role with Edge Hill University, and then I specialised and became a Resuscitation Training Officer. I have always had an interest in remote and rural setting, with this goal in mind I started to look at options available. I first noticed a job in Shetland on one of its non-doctor islands, so I dedicated to join the nursing bank to see if I liked it. Over the following two summers I spend much time visiting Shetland’s more remote islands providing relief for the resident nurse. I was fortunate enough to get offered a job full time as the resident nurse for Bressay.
At the time this was a difficult decision to make, thus leaving family, friends and a career pathway that I enjoyed, but I needed something different. I have currently been in post for 4 years and I love the everyday challenges that remote and rural nursing brings. Shetland life takes a little getting used to. However I would struggle to return to an urban setting although I still have family in Liverpool and it’s a pleasure visiting friends and family.
Chris Rice, Advanced Nurse Practitioner, NHS Shetland
Clinical Doctorate Student, University of Stirling
Dr Edward Duncan writes in The Conversation:
“Scotland’s most senior nurse, Fiona McQueen, has publicly apologised after an outcry following her publishing a blog which called for greater professionalism in nursing and midwifery. She shouldn’t have felt she had to do so.”
Read the full article here.
Dr Edward Duncan
Senior Research Fellow in Health Science, University of Stirling
21 January 2016
The recent approval of revalidation by the Nursing and Midwifery Council is a topic in which has initiated many debates and discussions over the past few months. The process, designed to strengthen the three-yearly registration renewal process, aims to increase professionalism amongst nurses.
Initially, many argued against revalidation, as they feared the introduction would be a burden which could spark a surge in the number of fitness to practice referrals. However, after pilot procedures and test studies were carried out with over 2,700 participants, early data analysis discovered the process to be straightforward and beneficial.
In order for nurses and midwives to revalidate every three years, they are required to undergo 450 practice hours, 35 hours of continuing professional development, five pieces of practice related feedback, five written reflective accounts, a reflective discussion, a health and character declaration, a professional indemnity arrangement, alongside confirming they have met the revalidation requirements.
The introduction will be influential to all nurses as it promotes a culture of professionalism by taking responsibility for their own professional development where they can reflect and focus on their own behaviours in the workplace, rather than those of others. This will empower them to make positive changes within their practice, through small improvements, whilst promoting and maintaining higher standards and quality of care within the NHS.
It will also help to extinguish the blame culture, by focusing on what we could do differently to avoid errors in the future.
Finally, it will also enhance public protection and patient safety, along with increasing the public’s credibility for nurses, as nurses will consciously be focusing on the quality of care given to their patients.
As a current student, revalidation will affect me from the moment I graduate. For example; students who are due to graduate in August 2016 will be due to revalidate in August 2019. For current students it may be easier to adapt and adjust to as it is already a requirement as opposed to trying to get used to the introduction of it.
We are also in a fortunate position as we already spend a considerate amount of time working on modules and reflections, in order to enhance our learning and to allow for self-improvement. Personal learning and development is a life-long experience within the nursing profession, and it allows us to maintain high standards of care, enhance our care skills and further develop our knowledge base. The introduction of revalidation will raise the standards of nursing, and promote professionalism, making nursing an attractive profession for prospective students.
Ceire Casey, Mental Health Student Nurse
21 December 2015
“Finding your passion will lead you to finding work that motivates and satisfies you”
– Dr Val Gokenbach
I’ve been a volunteer with the Red Cross since high school, after doing some skills sessions over a few weeks as part of personal development. Never did I think though, that signing up to volunteer as an Event First Aider would open up so many opportunities or even lead me into a career in Nursing.
Whenever I’m speaking to people about volunteering, most are generally positive. Of course there will be the odd person who doesn’t understand ‘why anyone would choose to do that and not get paid for it’. For me, volunteering started out as being something that would help fill up my weekends, and let me go to events that I was interested in. Not that I’m saying it doesn’t allow me to do this now, but over time I can see how the experience has helped me change and develop as a person and continues to do so. Not only this, but from the perspective of being a Student Nurse, it has also helped me develop my essential skills which are, undoubtedly, used every day on clinical placement and beyond. Communication, team-working, decision making, leadership, the list goes on. All of them competencies required to be demonstrated in clinical practice, and all of which I have been able to develop and refine through my volunteer work with the Red Cross.
Over my years of volunteering, it’s safe to say that I was bitten by the bug, and became quite passionate about it all. I wanted to bring this passion for the Red Cross to others, but in a way that would be more inclusive and supportive of those who didn’t fit into the ‘regular student’ role i.e. student nurses, as well as the rest of the student body.
We’re all aware that Universities’ and their Student Unions have lots to offer with regards to clubs and societies. Getting involved with them helps to enhance the university experience, shape views and gives skills required for jobs – unarguably a major attraction for students. What a lot of people may not be so aware of however, is that students studying degrees in Nursing are a group with the lowest engagement rate with clubs and societies at the University of Stirling. Why? After speaking with a lot of Student Nurses, the general consensus is that they don’t have the time to fit in extra-curricular activities or voluntary work due to the demands of the course, including placements. They may not have the time to commit to training schedules due to variations in timetables each week, or conflicting off-duty whilst on the wards. Ultimately they aren’t able to access some of the amazing opportunities that are available, which can help them become better practitioners – through their training and post qualification.
With all this in mind, I set up the Red Cross group at the University, at the end of my first year/beginning of second year. I think it’s safe to say that it did, and continues to, require a lot of effort to keep things running smoothly, but it is definitely worth it. We’ve been recognised by the Student’s Union for what our group has achieved, as well as locally and nationally by the British Red Cross, which speaks as a testament to everyone who is involved. Student Nurses have been enabled to develop their practical clinical skills, skills in communication and documentation as well as opening up the door for advanced training in Resuscitation Support Management and Trauma Management, free of charge for example. Above all a flexible approach to how people can access training and events has allowed more people to engage and learn, which is the ultimate aim. Personally I feel I’ve developed my own skills even further by leading the group. I have been able to experience, very early on, management of volunteers, working to meet aims and objectives whilst leading a team, even with pressures such as time and financial constraints. I am certain that my experiences in regards to this will be beneficial and help me in my nursing career in the years to come.
Of course there may be some of you who are reading this who have your own passion for something and are bored of reading about me telling you what you can learn with the Red Cross. What I’m trying to say is it’s about getting involved with something that will expand your horizons and develop you as a person, even if you do see it as just a hobby. Maybe you haven’t had the opportunity to pursue what it is you’re interested in. Well, as the saying goes “if opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door”. Get involved in something you are passionate about, you never know where it will lead and what you can achieve because of it.
Third Year Student Nurse (Adult Branch), University of Stirling
Two years ago I started my BSc in Adult Nursing at Highland Campus, University of Stirling, and it feels like it was only yesterday. First years, everyone will keep telling you how quickly the time passes and believe me it does. Blink and you really will miss it. The first few weeks are exciting and really quite nerve-wracking and don’t even start worrying about when you have to get ready to go on that first placement just yet!
This first semester will go so fast. You will learn a lot and gain many new skills. You will also learn a lot about yourself. The one piece of advice I would give myself two years ago would be to look after #1. You cannot care for anyone else if you are not physically and mentally at your best. Nursing is stressful and you are not immune from the stresses of the ward because you are a student. You may also be balancing a part time job with your studies to make ends meet. Make sure you are aware of your own mental health and you make time do to things for yourself. Whether your idea of relaxing is running, soaking in a bath, meditation or kickboxing, just make sure you have something that allows you to escape and unwind.
Grab every opportunity that comes your way because you will be guaranteed to learn something. Don’t despair at being sent away on placement, it might be the only time in your career you find yourself working out the logistics of getting a patient back home to an island that has a runway only functional at low tide! And use the support system you have in your cohort. You will be from so many different walks of life, of different ages, with different experiences but you are all starting on the same step and you will all be going through the same highs and lows!
“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it!”
Third year Student Nurse, University of Stirling
Queens Nursing Institute Scotland – supporting community nurses through education and practice – Guest Blogger
When you see this blog, your first question might be “who is the QNIS, and why are they contributing to a blog on the Stirling University Health Sciences page?” You may even need to google us. Go ahead, I’ll wait. I’ll even help.
That is us, the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland. We’re a small community nursing charity, and we have been around since 1889. We are based in Edinburgh, but cover the length and breadth of Scotland.
That explains the who, but what about the why?
Our mantra is promoting excellence in community nursing across Scotland. This includes anything that helps get evidence into practice, and we do this by providing professional development opportunities, influencing key stakeholders, and providing funding for research, education and professional development.
What does this mean for you?
It means that we will be here to help and support you in a variety of different ways as you move through your community nursing career, sometimes, without you even knowing. And this is how we’ll do it.
Several of you may have attended our annual conference, held in March in Dunblane. Next year, our conference is going to be held in Edinburgh, at Surgeon’s Hall. We have already secured Jos de Blok as one of our speakers, and he will talk about the Buurtzorg model of care and realising a dream – the story of his entrepreneurial spirit, which built on the evidence to make high quality care a reality, which has revolutionised community health and social care provision in the Netherlands. Our conferences are a wonderful way to develop within your profession, and an opportunity to build and grow your networks. Further information on the conference will appear on our website later this year.
We encourage excellence by providing awards for the best undergraduate and post graduate community nursing student in each University across Scotland, ensuring that the very best are recognised and rewarded.
We also deliver funding for education and professional development by way of grants. We have already provided seven grants this year, and the next group of education grants are available until 28th September. For 2015 we have three funding streams: Individual Education Grants, to help nurses pursue their studies; Learning Visits, where we support a nurse to visit or shadow nurses across Scotland, the UK and Europe, and Team Headspace, protecting time for teams to identify ways to work more effectively together.
One of our core areas is funding research and development. Each year we establish what key issues need attention, and provide a funding stream for innovation. This year, our ‘Catalysts for Change’ programme looked at improving health inequalities, and six projects have been funded, covering everything from homeless transitional care to the health of those working in lap dancing clubs.
We are currently in the latter stages of developing a new set of voluntary standards for District Nursing Practice and Education. These standards will enhance, not replace, the current NMC standards, and will ensure that nurses undertaking the SPQ are equipped for contemporary and future practice.
We offer Long Service Awards to nurses who have worked in the community for over 21 years, ensuring that loyalty and commitment are suitably rewarded. This also ensures we are there at the beginning of your career, the middle, and at the end of it.
That should explain why we were asked to provide a blog, but if you need any further details, please visit our website. You’ve already googled it once!
Rob Mackie, Research, Policy and Communications Officer, QNIS
29 July 2015