Kerry explains how she became an assistant director of nursing, and offers advice for those looking for a similar role
Name - Kerry Bloodworth
Current post - Assistant Director of Nursing
Why you became a nurse?
I became a nurse following the birth of my brother when I was 12. I really loved caring for this little boy and after a while I decided to be a nursery nurse but was put off by school. I then looked into nursing. I never considered children’s nursing at that time, I think information on this branch wasn’t as available as it is today. My initial dream was to care for sick children and after qualifying as SRN in the early 1980s, I saw a staff nurse job advertised in Nursing Times, with a picture of a baby and a sentence “experience not essential”, I took the opportunity to apply to work in the neonatal unit. I stayed there for the next 18 years and was lucky to be seconded to complete my RSCN training.
What qualifications do you need to be an Assistant Director of Nursing?
My current qualifications are RGN, RSCN, MA, Cert Ed plus some clinical courses relating to the neonatal unit (long since outdated now).
As nursing is now an all-graduate pathway, academic education is important for more senior roles.
- Higher education offers you the education and learning to look at evidence based practice and how to implement change within ward and department settings;
- Leadership development is also key in my role you need to be assertive without being aggressive, you need to be confident, and you need to be able influence colleagues (not just nurses); you need to have good communication skills. All these skills are what many nurses have working in the clinical setting but it’s about using these skills outside of the boundaries of a ward or department;
- It’s important to maintain clinical skills to be a role model when working on the wards and to provide safe, quality care to patients.
What do you like about your role?
I am very fortunate to have a role that allow me to influence nursing practice and to work frequently with nursing staff.
I’ve been able to project manage the rollout of the “Productive Ward” across all our inpatient wards; helping nurses problem solve every day issues that impact on their clinical work. Through the productive ward we’ve been able to look at clinical observations, handover and the environment and make changes that have helped with patient safety and patient experience. The productive ward has been a project that stands out for me due to its success with nursing colleagues.
I’ve worked with front line staff looking at implementing “hourly rounding”. This has also been another exciting project that impacts patient experience. In today’s NHS we need our patients to feel safe in our care and we need to promote the compassionate nurses who deliver care on a day-day basis and promote a more positive image in nursing and that we are “not too posh to wash”.
What are the challenges to this role?
In today’s busy NHS, the challenges we are facing are the demographic changes to our population, increased numbers of elderly and frail patients who tend to stay in hospital longer, and pressure to meet government targets. Reducing the number of registered nurse vacancies in an economic climate of austerity and competing with other local trusts for this small pool of talent.
Supporting the busy nursing staff in their roles, ensuring that they are compassionate and competent to deliver care and being able to offer development opportunities for registered and non-registered colleagues. Helping nursing staff to “keep their minds open” - in a climate of change and turmoil in today’s NHS, we need to learn how to do things differently. I wish nursing staff had more time in the day to spend more time with their patients and less on paperwork.
What advice would you offer nurses who want to follow in your footsteps?
My advice if you want to be an Assistant Director of Nursing:
- Have the ambition to drive you there;
- Look for development/secondment opportunities within your organisation;
- Have the courage to leave your clinical background and take a leap of faith;
- Have a plan on our you are going to achieve your goal;
- Get a mentor who can support and challenge you;
- Get the education you require to meet your goals;
- Put your head above the parapet and get yourself known in the organisation, you never know what opportunities can come from having a network around you.
Finally, go and speak to your director of nursing who is a font of all knowledge and can be very useful to you.
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