Deadline looms for RCN mentorship scheme

A pioneering nurse whose recycling project saved £50,000 is urging others to put their ideas forward for a new mentorship scheme aimed at improving nursing practice.

A pioneering nurse whose recycling project saved £50,000 is urging others to put their ideas forward for a new mentorship scheme aimed at improving nursing practice.

The RCN is offering mentorship and funding as part of the Celebrating Nursing Practice scheme.

Mary Thompson (right) with the team who worked to curb the amount of rubbish on wards.

All staff, from healthcare assistants and students to nursing leaders, are urged to submit their ideas for improving nursing practice before the 31 December deadline. 

Mentor to move forward

Up to 100 entries will receive a mentor to help them move their idea forward, while three or four submissions will also receive funding to help make their proposal a reality, or to help develop and disseminate current practice that is improving patient care.

NHS Fife nurse Mary Thomson developed a ‘green nursing’ scheme at the renal unit where she worked to curb the amount of rubbish staff were throwing away.

She was awarded £4,000 in funding to get the scheme off the ground. The project included educating colleagues on the importance of the 3Rs – reducing, reusing and recycling – and holding special 'waste watching' days.

The scheme saw clinical waste on the unit fall by two thirds and save more than £50,000. It has now been adopted across NHS Fife.

Project applications

Ms Thomson urged other nurses to apply for opportunities like the RCN scheme.

‘It has been amazing to see my project develop, and to see what a difference it’s made,’ she said. I would encourage anyone with an idea, however small, to take it as far as possible – who knows what you could achieve.’

The RCN mentorship project also welcomes midwifery ideas and innovations that have a clear application to nursing.

The time spent on the project could count towards continuous professional development hours for revalidation. All development will be funded by the RCN Foundation.

The RCN will provide

  • Guidance – the RCN will partner entrants with an expert mentor to help make the idea a reality. This could be by supporting nurses to develop a presentation for delivery at a conference, or to write a paper or journal article for publication.
  • Support – the mentor will meet with entrants in person and by phone or Skype, and use their expertise to help explore its applicability. They will provide proofreading support and help further refine the project and decide next steps.
  • Funding – if the idea is chosen for further development, the RCN will cover the costs incurred to enable this and to disseminate it further, including travel, conference attendance and submission of articles to professional journals.

RCN deputy director of nursing Steph Aiken said: 'Every day nurses see opportunities to improve patient care, but many don’t have access to the support to take these ideas forward.

'In our centenary year, we wanted to celebrate the very best in nursing practice by giving nurses the chance to develop their ideas and change patient care for the better.'

For more information or to submit an idea, visit the Celebrating Nursing Practice website.

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