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‘Inspirational’ and ‘trailblazing’ naval nursing officer retires

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A naval nursing officer credited with informing policy, and recognised by Nursing Times for her contribution to the profession, has retired after nearly two decades.

Commander Pauline Small, of HMS SCOTIA, retired after 18 years of service at the beginning of April.

“Her counsel, commitment and courage will be sorely missed”

Tom Knowles

In a rollcall of career achievements, she most recently held the post of senior officer, naval nursing for the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR). She retired from her other role, with NHS Scotland, in 2015.

Prior to that Cdr Small, from Glenrothes, Fife, held a variety of roles with HMS Scotia, including regional training officer, national nursing service co-ordinator and national nurse recruiter.

Earlier in her career, Cdr Small became the first member of Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service (QARNNS) Reserve to secure a clinical placement at the Defence Medical Service Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court.

She was also the first officer from QARNNS Reserve to be appointed as head of department and deck co-ordinator in the Primary Casualty Receiving Facility on board RFA Argus during the major three-week training programme called Exercise Medical Endeavour.

In addition, Cdr Small was deployed to the Princess Mary Hospital, RAF Akrotiri in 2006, where she provided “niche skills” in a working environment involving all three arms of the military.

Cdr Tom Knowles, commanding officer HMS SCOTIA, said: “Pauline has been an inspiration to many within her branch, as well as blazing a trail for women within the service.

HMS Scotia

‘Inspirational’ and ‘trailblazing’ naval nursing officer retires

Cdr Pauline Small with Cdr Kit McKinley

“Her counsel, commitment and courage will be sorely missed by all of those who worked with her,” he said.

Reflecting on her career, Cdr Small said: “I think the most important aspect of my career has been influencing future policy and strategy.

“Highlights include initiating the development of the NHS Reserve Service Policy in Scotland and working with the Scottish government to secure internships for newly qualified nurses, joining Reserve Medical Services and offering clinical placements within the NHS as part of their Reserve Service training,” she noted.

She has received a number of honours recognising her achievements. Her commitment to the naval service was rewarded with presentation of the QARNNS Reserve Centenary Trophy in 2005.

Cdr Small also received two Achievement Awards from HMS SCOTIA in 2003 and 2007, recognising her commitment to the unit.

In 2014, she became the first military nurse to be appointed to the Nursing Times Inaugural Leaders list.

She subsequently received a commendation from Flag Officer Reserves in February 2016.

Her role as senior RNR naval nursing officer has now passed to Cdr Kit McKinley, who by coincidence is also from HMS SCOTIA.

How the Nursing Times Leaders List supplement described Cdr Small

Pauline qualified as a nurse in 1980 and joined the Royal Naval Reserve and Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service in 1999.

Pauline Small

Pauline Small

Pauline Small

She currently works in support to Commander Maritime Reserves. Her civilian post is associate nurse director at NHS Fife, where she provides professional advice and support on nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals.

She manages the practice and professional development team, which provides continuing professional development for primary and community nurses, and is organisational lead on issues including professional regulation, non-medical prescribing, modernising community nursing, and child and adult protection, and is NHS Fife armed forces champion.

Her work with the Royal Naval Reserve has included periods in Cyprus and Gibraltar, and she has participated in several exercises with the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Territorial Army including training at sea, testing the capability of the primary casualty receiving facility.

The judges said: ‘Pauline has been hugely influential in encouraging healthcare providers to release employees to act as reservists.’

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