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OPINION 

‘Acknowledge nurses’ abilities and use them accordingly’

Helen Scullion
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Within the NHS today the nurse’s role has significantly developed and expanded into areas once only thought of as part of a doctor’s role

Throughout the country there are nurses providing clinical care across a whole breadth of specialities, providing service improvements and putting the patient’s needs first and at the centre of focused care.

These nurses endeavour to provide excellent standards of care to help each patient’s journey run as smoothly and relaxed as possible, often carrying out this work as part of their everyday practices.

Being named as Nurse of the Year at the Nursing Times Awards 2018 has given me the perfect platform to share and celebrate how nursing roles are crossing boundaries into other professional areas.

It is vital that we recognise this work and promote the sharing of good practice, which could be effective in other areas throughout the country.

For example, my own career path has seen me take on roles that traditionally would been done by other health professionals – radiographers or radiologists.

I am a nurse who originally qualified with a diploma in nursing in 1994, working on a general surgical ward with an interest in urology. Then in 1997 I completed a BSc in nursing and moved into a team leader role. I worked and travelled for some time in Australia but then came back to the UK and commenced working in a radiology unit.

The opportunities for an extended role were obvious to me but not always embraced by the system. Generally, I would say that nurses within the radiology setting are a minority profession and are often not used to the best of their abilities.

But with in-house training I took on the role of performing trans-rectal ultrasound (TRUS) and biopsy of the prostate and developed the service. I took a lead in the service, increasing the availability of slots and training others to assist in maintaining targets.

Following that, I undertook a postgraduate certificate in general medical ultrasound, which is usually a role undertaken by radiographers moving to sonography. As a result, I perform diagnostic scans for a range of conditions and have assisted in developing practitioner-performed ultrasound guidance for suprapubic catheter insertions.

Filling service gaps due to radiologist shortages, I have undergone a course to direct screening within fluoroscopy, directing X-rays and I’m currently undergoing an in-house individual screening programme to screen independently – again a role generally performed by radiographers.

I also perform diagnostic urology fluoroscopy imaging, nephrostomy tube changes and ileal conduit stent changes on an individual patient need – this is a role that is normally performed by radiologists, however, I believe it is an easily transferable skill.

I introduced the service to manage these changes, which have gained patient confidence and trust in the service and reduced admissions. I am currently training a radiographer practitioner to perform these procedures as well.

Nurses’ abilities need to be acknowledged and used accordingly, and these nurses should sing out about their practice. Most importantly, they should share this good practice to improve patient care at a national level.

Helen Scullion is urology advanced nurse practitioner in radiology, South Tees Hospital Foundation Trust.

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