Guest blog: Jo Ward (International Nurses Day)
My journey as a nurse started over twenty-eight years ago. I remember always wanting to be in a job where I could help people, and even all those years ago, nursing felt like an exciting and hugely diverse career. My nursing career has allowed me to do so much, including publishing an article on values based clinical supervision, being commissioned to do many different public health projects, teaching on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, becoming a non-medical prescriber, and achieving a Queens Nursing Institute Award for Innovative Practice on young people’s sexual health. The list is not exhaustive, but gives some idea about how varied my nursing adventure has been!
I feel exceptionally fortunate to be doing a job I absolutely love and to have been able to work with and support a wide range of people and communities. I love helping people, and as a nurse I have learnt to use all of my communication skills – verbal and nonverbal – to work in partnership with patients and families from the word go. It is a hugely rewarding career.
My nursing journey continues to be the exciting adventure I dreamed of all those years ago. I started as a Registered Adult Nurse (RGN) and qualified and worked on a Surgical Liver Unit in Liverpool. Soon after this I took a post at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and funded myself to be a Registered Children's Nurse (RSCN). My time at Alder Hey is still very dear to me, and that passion for working with children and families took me into undertaking my Health Visiting Degree as a specialist public health nurse.
My love of population health and tackling health inequalities and inequities was born back in 1999, and that passion remains constant today. I took posts as a domestic violence lead and a few years later as a specialist public health development Nurse across Liverpool and Sefton. I even managed to complete a Masters in Applied Public Health; at this time hardly any nurses worked in public health and much of my work and projects required tenacity and multifaceted partnership working. It really was a brand new way of working back then!
In 2005 I felt I still needed to ensure I had a strong clinical aspect to my role alongside my population health post, so I ventured into the world of GP Out of Hours as a triage nurse in Liverpool before joining CWP in 2010. My role in Out of Hours has constantly kept me grounded and in touch with patient. It’s also a role which I feel makes a huge difference to patients and families. So many of the patients and families I have worked with over this period have been vulnerable and needing help for many different reasons, such as the travelling families we help who are not registered with local primary care provision, patients at the end of their life, parents concerned about their feverish child at 3am, a worried relative calling as mum has fallen over again, concerned parents calling as their child has eaten playdoh, outbreaks in the community of mumps, measles and parents calling for advice, there is so much variation in what we do as a service it’s hard to fully capture the breadth of it.
I love working in GP out of Hours. My current role is a trainee Advanced Clinical Practitioner and it’s hugely exciting to be part of the advanced practice agenda nationally and to be doing this in Urgent Care which brings such diversity and variation to my work. It certainly keeps me constantly hungry for learning and exploring new innovative ways of working to improve the patient journey.
I am hugely excited to where my next adventure will take me as an Advanced Clinical Practitioner within Urgent Care. I will be ensuring my next chapter involves working across the four pillars of advanced practice: clinical, education, research and leadership. I hope to continue linking with the University of Chester when able to in my role as a guest lecturer of Nursing.
In summary I would actively encourage anyone interested in making a difference to people’s lives to consider a career in Nursing, your journey really can be anything you want it to be. It’s the best job in the world. No two days are the same and every day is a learning day!