Anna is from Edinburgh and is starting her second year (in 2022) of an 18-month pathway towards obtaining her PGDip Person-Centred Practice (District Nursing).
Why did you choose to study at Queen Margaret University (QMU)?
I was working as a community staff nurse in Edinburgh, and was at a stage in my personal and professional life where I felt ready for a new challenge. I had been encouraged by senior colleagues to take my passion and aptitude for district nursing further, and so when an opportunity arose to apply for the Person-Centred Practice course I was immediately keen to pursue it.
What interested you about the Person-centred Practice (District Nursing) course?
Regularly working alongside District Nurses who had undertaken the Person-Centred Practice course, I had seen first-hand how it had lead them to flourish, both as effective person-centred leaders of nursing teams, and as expert clinicians who are helping improve nursing practice and patient care outcomes through employing additional skills in clinical assessment and non-medical prescribing, that they had developed as part of their learning on the course.
What attracted you to study in Edinburgh?
Studying in Edinburgh was an obvious choice for me as I was already working as a registered nurse in the city, and so studying locally has meant that I have been able to participate fully in university life even while still remaining committed to working in my current health board, and has meant that I’ve been able to keep up with a close support network of friends and colleagues too.
What have you most enjoyed about your course? What has been the highlight?
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the course has been getting to know peers on it who work in different regions and have hugely varied professional backgrounds and life experiences to share. I have learned so much from those fellow learners that has shaped me as a nurse and as a person, sometimes through formal reflective activities and at other times just over a coffee at break-time! The Person-Centred Practice course is challenging, and yet having such a supportive group of peer learners alongside me has made it enjoyable, and getting so much time hearing from their insights and sharing expertise has been an invaluable aspect of the experience so far.
And I have also found that all of the theoretical learning that we have assimilated as part of the course about leadership and person-centred practice has immediately fed into the clinical care that I provide and the ways that I engage with nursing teams that I have responsibility to help lead, so that has just been fantastic as it has felt as though everything we have studied has been wholly relevant and worthwhile.
Have you participated in a course activity you found especially interesting?
I hugely enjoyed learning about how to carry out person-centred consultations and assessments of body systems as part of the Advancing Practice in Clinical Assessment module that features in the course.
Everything we learned theoretically we were immediately helped to engage in practically in our daily nursing practice, and so the knowledge and skills I acquired from this part of the course are now an intrinsic part of my working day, and have transformed the way in which I interact with and assess patients under my care, have helped me to be able to work autonomously and to be able to make well-reasoned clinical decisions, and have changed the way that I engage with medical and allied health professional colleagues too.
How have your lecturers supported your learning?
One of the best aspects of studying on this course has been that the lecturers have been personable and supportive. We have been encouraged to seek out support with our academic work when needed, and our lecturers also have a good understanding of the demands of balancing studying with nursing practice and so always seek to give us realistic academic deadlines, and work flexibly to help ensure that our course content is relevant to individual learning needs and workplace demands we may be facing.
What have been some of your challenges with the course and university life? How have you overcome them?
Continuing to work as a nurse while studying has been challenging, but the support of the QMU faculty, my course peers and friends and family has made it possible not only to just ‘get through’ the course so far but to thoroughly enjoy it!
What advice would you give students wanting to apply to this course?
If possible, speak to colleagues who have undertaken this course over the last few years to hear from them what their experience has been. And I would also recommend reading the district nursing section in the Scottish Government’s (2018) ‘Transforming Roles’ briefing paper, as well as the NMC (2001) Standards for Specialist Education and Practice and the QNI/QNIS (2015) Standards for District Nurse Education and Practice.
These documents help provide useful context for what careers in district nursing and more advanced practice look like now, and where this professional role is headed, and so may be helpful if you are seeking discernment as to whether a district nursing is the specialty in which you would like to focus your continuing professional development.
The Student experience
What has been the most valuable lesson that you’ve learned at university?
As one of our lecturers frequently reminds us as learners, “Trust the process”.
What are you plans after graduation? Tell us about your ambitions and where you see yourself in the future?
I hope to complete my studies at QMU in spring 2023, and will be working as a Specialist Practitioner District Nurse thereafter. I will be leading a team of district nurses and using my skills in consultation, clinical assessment and able to prescribe medications and dressings for patients under my care, and so I am very much looking forward to putting everything that I have grown in and achieved over the course of the programme in to practice day-to-day.
And having very much enjoyed the academic side of the Person Centred Practice course, I will also consider returning to QMU in future to complete the credits required to achieve a Masters-level qualification in my field of expertise. But I think I will leave that ambition aside for at least a few months and just enjoy having study-free evenings!
"Everything we learned theoretically we were immediately helped to engage in practically in our daily nursing practice, and so the knowledge and skills I acquired from this part of the course are now an intrinsic part of my working day."
[story published in August 2022]