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Keeping it clinical

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Lecturer Philippa Quin continues in clinical practice at the first GP surgery to be run jointly by a university and the NHS

Philippa Quin has spent more time in “school” than most, despite having left secondary education at 16 and having taken her A levels via a correspondence course. She qualified as a nurse in 1985, as a midwife in 1988, received a BA (honours) history degree in 1992, an MA in healthcare ethics and law in 1999 and an MSc in advanced practice in health and social care in 2007.

Now, as a newly appointed lecturer in advanced nursing practice at Plymouth University, she gets to spend even more time in school; only this time it’s the school of nursing and midwifery, and she’s teaching. So far, Ms Quin is the first person with this position at Plymouth.

The role is a unique combination of lecturer and clinical practitioner. Her clinical practice takes place at the Cumberland GP practice in Devonport, Plymouth, which is the first NHS GP practice to be jointly run by a university and a provider of NHS primary care.

“It’s about interdisciplinary learning and involving students from many different backgrounds,” she says.

“In this role I really will have the opportunity to link theory and practice,” she adds.

In terms of challenges, she says: “New initiatives require time for planning. Communication links have to be forged and then maintained to promote effective collaborative relationships.”

Ms Quin adds: “These collaborative relationships then benefit patients and students alike.”

She says working directly in the clinical setting shows how experience informs theory and how theory informs practice. It is then obvious how they are equally applicable to the curriculum.

Her focus is not just on students, but on improving patient experience. And this has been her inspiration to take on the teaching role.

“It’s a privilege to work in primary care because you can build up positive relationships with patients over longer periods,” she says. “If you know your patients, it’s easier to find out what’s wrong and help solve problems. Plus knowing the context of patients’ illnesses can be an invaluable diagnostic tool.”

She goes on to observe “another key to the provision of effective primary care services is the presence of health professionals who know what’s available for patients”. She adds: “This is just as likely to involve mobilising social care resources as utilising traditional healthcare solutions.”

Ms Quin has been at Plymouth for six months and says developing the role will be an ongoing process. Currently, she works three mornings a week at the Devonport surgery. One of the surgery’s aims is to help reduce health inequalities and it is hoped this “learning” environment approach will contribute to health and wellbeing improvements.

“One of my main responsibilities will be teaching clinical skills on the advancing practice module of the MSc in contemporary healthcare course,” she says. “Advanced practice involves developing the skills to manage complex patients and the opportunity to facilitate learning in the classroom and in clinical practice. It is very exciting.”

Ms Quin feels she can use her experience from her own education to benefit her teaching.

“I had some inspirational teachers who made lecturing look easy,” she says. “I realised as soon as I started for myself how exceedingly difficult it is.”

She recalls a professor from her MA course who was outstanding. He made the most complex topics look fluid and seamless - his teaching was as finely crafted as any piece of Anglo-Saxon jewellery (no higher accolade for this history graduate).

“My overarching aim is to personally facilitate learning from both a practical and a theoretical background,” Ms Quin says. “I’m confident this innovative role between the university and the healthcare provider will be a success.”

She feels that she has been lucky in working in an area that she enjoys: “I found primary care quite early on in my nursing career and loved it from the start.

“I’m very passionate about what I do and I’m hoping my passion will enthuse the students I meet in this role.”

Sara Barba

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