Career Profile: Clinical lead, Adult community nursing

Why did you become a nurse?

I became a nurse because I found that I love spending time with older people and listening to their stories. It started when I dropped out of college at 16. My mum told me, in no uncertain terms, that I had to earn my own money, so I started working at a nursing home as a cleaner.

The owner of the nursing home saw how much I enjoyed talking to the residents and offered to teach me to be a care assistant. I loved it. I learned all the fundamentals of looking after someone who is frail and vulnerable, and watched the nurses caring for people at the end of their lives. I had an 'I can do this' moment and applied to become a nurse.

How has your career developed since you started nursing?

Once I qualified, I went straight to work in the community. I do not believe that you need hospital experience before you move into community nursing. I had several part-time-community staff roles, working up from D grade to E grade. I was lucky enough to be sponsored to become a district nurse at Southampton University. It enabled me to develop managerial skills, and gave me experience of working closely with a GP.

After I qualified as a specialist practitioner, I could not find a team leader role, so I moved across into public health, specialising in smoking cessation. I prescribed nicotine replacement therapy and organised events for No Smoking day. Then, in 2005, the community matron role was coming into fashion and I worked in Woking. We could manage our days and our caseload according to patient wishes. After some years in this role, I moved on and took up my current role as clinical lead for district nursing in the Kensington and Chelsea area of central London.

What does your current role entail?

My main responsibility is to help the service manager lead 15 teams of district nurses (about 100 staff), who cover a 24-hour period. It is a challenging, exciting, diverse and enjoyable role. I aim to support team leaders with complex care, safeguarding issues, managing staff, and creating a service we can be proud of. The teams I work with have to remain professional in the most challenging circumstances. To aid them, I translate policy into strategy and practice.

What are the best and worst parts of your job?

The best part of my job is working with my manager; knowing we both have the same aims and seeing our staff develop through the nursing ranks. The worst part is having difficult conversations regarding performance, but I firmly believe in being honest with colleagues.

How do you see your role developing?

I see the role developing into professional leadership, hopefully with career progression. I would like a chance to diversify into projects like mobile working and practice education. I keep up to date using Twitter and the QNI website, in addition to starting to develop an RCN role.

If you weren't a nurse, what would you be?

Maybe a nail technician. Or perhaps an architect.

What would you do if you were health secretary?

I would introduce minimum pricing levels for alcohol and review the drug rehab system in the UK.

Fact file

Job title: Clinical lead, adult community nursing

Location: Central London Community Healthcare Trust

Qualifications: RN, Dip, HE, DN, BSC (hons)

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