My job

My job: pre-assessment lead nurse Emma McCone

‘Happy patients are as important as happy staff; one always complements the other,’ says pre-assessment lead Emma McCone.

‘Happy patients are as important as happy staff; one always complements the other,’ says pre-assessment lead Emma McCone.


Pre-assessment lead nurse Emma McCone

What is your job?

I am a pre-assessment lead nurse at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. There is a misconception that I’m an ‘ob and swab nurse’ but in fact the role is a complex balance of patient assessment for elective surgery, service development, pathway expertise for a diverse patient group and the management of various grades of staff, including nurse practitioners, operating department practitioners, assistant practitioners, healthcare assistants and admin team.

Why did you become a nurse?

I genuinely like helping people and I knew I had good multitasking skills. Plus, Casualty was my favourite TV programme.

Where have you worked previously?

I have stayed at this trust in the North East. After qualifying as a nurse in 2000, I went straight to surgery for a couple of years before falling into pre-assessment as a project nurse to help streamline services. Pre-assessment is now my absolute passion.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

My team is a credit to the service. I’m proud of the work we do, the number of patients we see under difficult conditions, our low cancellation rates and the fact we were recognised as an outstanding pre-assessment unit in 2016 by the Care Quality Commission. Plus, we all have a good sense of humour.

How and where have you developed leadership skills?

I’ve been on courses but I think leadership is something that grows within. Learning from the things we could have done better, accepting criticism from the team around us and listening. Trying to be positive spreads to others. We have a hard job in today’s climate but working as a team is vital.

How does your current job make use of your leadership skills?

Pre-assessment means we work with people from all the surgical directorates. Every day is a challenge to help prevent cancellations and ensure patients are safe. Positivity, motivation and a great deal of awareness ensure the unit is run successfully.

What is the greatest challenge?

I found staff management hard and I never wanted to say no, but there are times as a leader when you have to have a balanced view of staff morale, cost efficiency and productivity. Happy patients are as important as happy staff; one always complements the other.

What would you change if you could?

Learning that saying no doesn’t equate to failure. I have a strong work ethic but this has to be balanced with family and downtime.

What inspires you?

My team, my patients and my family. I am now focused on nurse education and I couldn’t have done this without the support of those around me. After 20 years in nursing, I have found a passion for teaching and sharing what I believe are the foundations of good nursing.

What makes a good nurse leader?

Being calm, staying positive, having a sense of humour and two-way communication. If we develop our staff, believe in and teach them, they grow, and your work is recognised and respected, which makes you proud.

What advice would you like to pass on to students and junior staff?

Nursing is a challenge. Some days are sad and some days we may wonder why we do it. Other days, we go home with the best feeling in the world: that we have made a difference. Achieve the right balance for you, support and learn from each other, take time to listen and treat everyone in the way you would wish to be treated; especially patients.

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