Two years ago I decided to step out of my comfort zone and become one of the first nursing associates in the country.
I work in Northampton General Hospital and on 7 February the hospital held a celebration day to mark the qualifying of the very first nursing associates in Northamptonshire.
During this event I gave a speech about my journey into this new role to the senior nursing staff, matrons, registered nurses and my fellow nursing associates who inspired me to be the best practitioner I could be.
I had been working as a theatre support worker in gynaecology for four years and felt that I wanted to develop my knowledge and skill set to support my fellow colleagues in delivering excellent patient care.
”I have been exposed to a variety of different experiences and situations – each teaching me a new lesson”
I was unable to afford university and wanted to continue to work while I trained. Like many of my fellow nursing associates, I was unsure what this role would entail or if I would succeed, however after long discussions and encouragement, I decided to go for it and take the opportunity with an open mind.
I would have to describe this journey as a roller coaster of emotions. I have been exposed to a variety of different experiences and situations – each teaching me a new lesson that I can use and take forward to enhance my own practice.
This role is designed to create practitioners who can care in a holistic and person-centred way for a range of patient types – supporting and bridging the gap between healthcare assistant and staff nurse. My placements varied from community and mental health settings to acute inpatient wards.
University weeks opened my mind to a range of new concepts such as health promotion, reablement and evidence-based research – and enhanced my anatomy and physiology knowledge through countless essays, exams and presentations.
I understood that with a new role came uncertainty among registered nurses, healthcare assistants and patients, and that many had been sceptical of this role. However, I found all the staff I worked with to be supportive, encouraging and open to passing on their knowledge and answering my endless amount of questions.
There have been many times where I thought to myself: “What on earth am I doing? No one knows who I am and I’m not even sure myself”.
However, these feelings were outweighed by a huge sense of achievement after each placement and academic module.
As the first cohort of Northamptonshire, I feel we have shown resilience, determination and courage, while supporting each other along the way.
For me and many others, this role has taught me to be confident in myself and my ability to deliver the best possible care to all my patients and their relatives.
It has taught me to be competent with my new found knowledge and skill set delivering evidenced based care; to have courage in questioning aspects of care I don’t understand or that don’t feel right for my patients.
It has improved my communication skills with my understanding of the multidisciplinary team, and has encouraged my vision to innovate and embrace new ways of working.
I am proud that this role enables me to be accountable for my own actions and hold a professional registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
I am excited about starting my career as a nursing associate, and look forward to proving the importance of this role within the NHS.
Emma Green is a nursing associate in Northampton