Career advice

Keeping staff in step

Brian McEnteggart splits his time between clinical practice and education

BRIAN MCENTEGGART, clinical practice facilitator (CPF) for emergency care at University College Hospital, London, recently plastered the broken foot of an Irish dancer in Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance show in London’s West End.

The irony of this was not lost on Mr McEnteggart, who spent ten years as a dancer touring with the show before qualifying as a nurse in 2010. The shoe, as it were, was now on the other foot. ‘Talk about turning things around,’ laughs Mr McEnteggart, who once ended up in plaster himself following a stress fracture to his leg while on tour in the United States.

He recalls how the ‘seed for nursing’ was planted in him when he was 12 years old, when his home in Ireland became a thoroughfare for doctors, nurses and allied health professionals attending to his grandmother, who had had a stroke.

He signed up for a one-year access-to-nursing course after leaving school, then switched to a professional dancing career.

After a decade on the road, he decided the time was right to return to the nursing profession. ‘I finished dancing on a Wednesday and started nursing on the Monday.’

Mr McEnteggart arrived at the University College Hospital emergency department (ED) in 2011, having ‘caught the bug’ for urgent care while on a second-year student placement. Following a year working on an 18-bed medical oncology unit for adult males, he became the ED’s oncology link nurse, and then progressed through the ranks: senior staff nurse and link nurse for pre-registration education, then deputy charge nurse. He moved into his role as CPF last January.

The band 6 role is split between clinical practice and education, with a regular shift pattern of 8am until 4pm, Monday to Friday, that allows him to plan weekends.

He is responsible for delivering the training needs of 110 adult and children’s nurses in the ED in-house and in the university. ‘It is my responsibility to ensure that all staff receive an adequate amount of training in the department, so there is a lot of delegation, maintaining standards of education and working with evidence-based practice.’

As a nurse educator, Mr McEnteggart ensures that staff are aware of new guidelines, policies and procedures, and that they receive the relevant training. ‘I may be approached by a company or those who have developed a policy or procedure to take part in trials. I then refer to the evidence base and best practice in the department so that we can offer the best possible care to our patients.’

Balancing his role as an educator with his desire for patient contact can be challenging. ‘It involves a lot of office-based work that I had never thought I would do. You have to get onto the shop floor or you feel you are becoming deskilled.’

Mr McEnteggart undertakes his clinical work alongside the colleagues he supports because ‘you can only teach so much in the classroom’. He adds: ‘You have to get out there and work with staff and patients, and the best place to do this is in the clinical area. Also, if someone is struggling or needs performance management, I can help them to improve.’

‘I love supporting people, from student nurses all the way up, because I know how important it is. I know how well supported I was, and I want to pass it on and see how people develop. If you have been a factor in the education of band 5 nurses, and they get promoted because they have demonstrated how well they are doing, you can take some of the credit. Supporting people who are struggling to better themselves and alleviating the stresses of the job through education are always good.’

Mr McEnteggart enjoys being on his own learning curve because new research, products, policies and best practice ‘keep it fresh all the time’.

He sees his future in education in emergency care, but patient contact has to be part of the equation. ‘If I did not have that, I would miss it. It’s why we become nurses, isn’t it?’

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