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How do I manage extra responsibility?

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My manager has given me special responsibility for infection control within the ward as part of my career development. This is obviously a high-profile topic and I want to do well. Where do I start?

My manager has given me special responsibility for infection control within the ward as part of my career development. This is obviously a high-profile topic and I want to do well. Where do I start?

An opportunity like this can be both personally rewarding and career enhancing. From the outset, you need to be clear about exactly what your role is to be. Presumably, this work will be undertaken alongside your regular ward work.

Basically, your role should be the link between your ward colleagues and the specialist infection control staff at the hospital.

Once you have clarified your role with your manager you should seek a meeting with the infection control team and find out what the key issues are within your hospital. As you say, this is a high-profile topic and there is likely to be a great deal of activity, with the spotlight on what is happening. Find out what is expected of you from their perspective and make sure this is agreed with your manager.

Get hold of as much relevant information as you can, both locally and nationally. Be sure you are up to date with local policies and who has responsibility for what. Build yourself a filing system to keep all this information together.

There is likely to be some sort of network for staff with similar responsibilities to yours. If it does not exist, then why not suggest that such a network is set up? This can be a real opportunity to share concerns and benefit from each other’s experiences.

You will need to seek a meeting with your ward colleagues so that they have a clear understanding of your role. This can often be done during routine ward meetings. You will have to ensure that night staff are also involved. Staff will need to realise that just because you have been given this responsibility, they cannot abdicate their role in preventing and combating infection. Explain that you are there to support them, to raise their views with the infection control team and to bring back information, advice and support.

Finally, ensure you regularly reflect on the experience and knowledge you gain from this work and that it is noted in your portfolio and CV, which should go a long way to enhancing your career.

Chris Pearce, formerly a director of nursing, is a life coach with lifegoalspecialists.co.uk

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