The patients I nurse have usually had a life-changing spinal cord injury, which means they require a long period of time in hospital to prepare them for successful discharge and reintegration into the community.
A few weeks ago I was listening to morning handover on my first day back following annual leave, and the nurse reported that one of our new patients had been having issues with their diabetes control overnight.
I had not nursed a patient with unstable diabetes recently, so I decided that when I got home I would have a look online to find out about the latest developments in diabetes care, update my knowledge and thus benefit not only myself but my patient.
By the time I arrived home I had received the dreaded email from my children’s school to say that there had been a reported case of nits in their class and that parents should check hair as a matter of priority. With four long-haired females in my house, this is a painful process for all and by the time it was all finished, I was tired and couldn’t face updating myself on diabetes.
“Sometimes it is difficult to make the time to read the latest research”
I did eventually get around to doing it a few days later, but my point is that lives are busy. Sometimes it is difficult to make the time to read the latest research, keep up-to-date on new developments and current trends, and keep an eye on what’s going on in the nursing world as a whole.
But finding time is important. As my career has progressed, I have found continuing professional development (CPD) much less of a chore and I enjoy discovering new information and increasing my knowledge.
I find it gives me confidence in my abilities as a nurse; that I am doing the best for my patients. It also stops me from becoming complacent and reminds me that it is good to learn. Quoting up-to-date literature also makes one look very good in meetings.
Professional development is an essential part of a nurse’s role as we are the primary patient contact during their admission, so we need the knowledge to look after them to reduce complications and have safe and timely discharge.
Not all learning has to be university driven, but continuing to learn and remain up-to-date is vital whichever way you choose to do it. There is a wealth of information available to us in all sorts of formats, so hopefully there is something for everyone.
I set myself goals and deadlines such as feeding back what I have learned in a team meeting on a specific date – otherwise, I won’t make it a priority. To update my knowledge, I look at websites – on this occasion I used www.diabetes.org.uk – but I also pick the brains of my colleagues and use their knowledge.
My advice is to make achievable goals for your CPD – goals that fit into your work-life balance. However you do it, remember that it is vital for patient safety and care.
Sian Rodger is health coaching nurse facilitator at the London Spinal Cord Injury Centre