My job

‘Do the right thing and be prepared to support an unpopular view’

Senior lecturer Lorna McInulty explains how becoming a trauma nurse co-coordinator changed her career.

Senior lecturer Lorna McInulty explains how becoming a trauma nurse co-coordinator changed her career.


What is your job?

I am a senior lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire. I run multidisciplinary modules on minor injury management and major trauma. However, the bulk of my work is teaching on the undergraduate paramedic curriculum.

Why did you become an emergency nurse? 

I was attracted to the variety and the way immediacy of interventions makes a difference to patients, whether they need resuscitation or minor injury management. The challenge of being a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ and, hopefully, the master of some was exciting.

How and where have you developed your emergency care skills?

I worked in a variety of emergency departments (EDs) and undertook a range of relevant courses, including an orthopaedic nursing certificate that was of tremendous benefit. The experience of working in different environments and geographical locations has given me a broad perspective.

How did you progress through your career?

After being a departmental sister, my career took off when I became the UK’s first trauma nurse co-coordinator (TNC) in 1997. I worked with a superb trauma care team, and learned a great deal about major trauma and team working. Through their support and leadership, I published articles and presented at many conferences, things that I had neither the confidence nor the encouragement to do before. The TNC role truly changed my career, making it possible for me to return to the ED full-time as a nurse consultant.

What have you learned in each role?

The biggest impact on my practice came from the TNC role. Until then, I had never truly thought about what happened to patients after leaving the ED. I had little idea of what can and does go wrong later in the patient journey. I thought I had become a better emergency nurse after that experience.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Teaching anyone who wants to learn. Paramedic students in particular are thirsty for knowledge.

What achievement makes you most proud?

How I grew professionally in the TNC role and being one of the first nurse consultants in the UK. This year, I received a university award for innovative teaching, which means the world to me. To know that I am making an impact on other people's careers is a wonderful feeling.

What is the greatest challenge you have faced, and how have you overcome it?

When a latex allergy ended my clinical career. To reach the top of my career only to have it swept away by a medical misfortune was devastating. I had always loved teaching and, before the introduction of clinical academic careers, I had intended to pursue a career in education. Spotting an advert for a lecturer in paramedic practice, which was then new to the higher education sector, I decided to take the plunge. It was almost like starting a brand-new career, but eight years on I feel I am a bona fide teacher of paramedics. The knowledge I have gained in this discipline has served me well when teaching emergency nurses.

What advice would give a nurse who’s starting out in emergency care?

Do the right thing and be prepared to support an unpopular view if you know in your heart it is right. But you will need to develop a thick skin early on.

What is likely to affect emergency nurses most over the next 12 months?

Lack of government and managerial support will continue to have an adverse impact on nurses in terms of workload, stress, and limited opportunities for further education and development. I believe the quality of service is being diluted because inexperienced nurses are being rushed into roles that they are not ready for clinically or educationally. This is especially true of nurse practitioners and is a worrying trend. 

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