Careers

'Community nurses are well placed to reach out to vulnerable groups'

Award-winning specialist practitioner district nurse for NHS Borders Lynn Weir discusses how a conference marked a turning point in her career development, and the importance of tackling inequality within healthcare.

Award-winning specialist practitioner district nurse for NHS Borders Lynn Weir discusses how a conference marked a turning point in her career development, and the importance of tackling inequality within healthcare


Lynn Weir

It was a real honour to win the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland postgraduate award in community nursing recently.

It has inspired me to focus on the many positive aspects in the field.

I feel passionately that we must work together with all sectors in the community for the benefit of patients and other healthcare professionals.

Having undertaken a degree in sociology, I have always had an interest in exploring the values and beliefs of different cultures. This has stimulated a desire to work with people in the community.

Empowering independence

After graduating, I chose to work as a home carer on a dementia project. The experience instilled a passion for considering the needs of those at the centre of the care process.

It was a natural progression to enter adult nursing, working in respiratory care at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

I was inspired by the leadership skills of my mentor and, at an early stage of my training, realised the importance and privilege of empowering people to live as independently as possible in their own homes.

'I want to transfer much of my new learning into the practice setting'

I have been fortunate to work in community nursing in the Tweeddale area in the Scottish Borders for 12 years, initially through the evening service. During this time, I learned complex care management, anticipatory care planning, nurse prescribing, lone working, and working across geographical boundaries.

I welcomed the opportunity to undertake postgraduate study at Queen Margaret University to develop my role as a specialist practitioner district nurse, undertaking advanced assessment and developing clinical decision-making and leadership skills.

The person-centred leadership attributes I observed in my practice teacher training are skills I aspire to replicate with staff and patients as I enter my new role in NHS Borders. I want to transfer much of my new learning into the practice setting, encouraging my team and colleagues to share their experience.

Informal learning

Career development is not just about undertaking courses. Informal learning such as working with supportive mentors, training techniques, shadowing other healthcare professionals and active learning teams are all equally valuable, and their importance in enhancing education should not be underestimated.

This year, I attended a Queen’s Nursing Institute conference on conversations that change lives and build communities, marking a turning point in my career development.

'It prompted me to critically reflect on my own practice'

It prompted me to critically reflect on my own practice, with consideration given to how I can develop more person-centred ways of working at a local level, simply by listening to what really matters to our colleagues, patients and their families.

Addressing health inequalities in vulnerable communities

I have a particular interest in addressing inequalities in health, linking with more vulnerable groups. Through health needs assessments in my locality, I have identified informal carers of the growing number of people with dementia as an isolated sector in society.

Community nurses are well placed to reach out to these groups. I have already made links with social care, carers, the third sector, establishing collaborative ways of working in which we can promote resilience, health and wellbeing in communities.

It is essential that we identify and tackle inequalities as we embrace the challenges of caring for an increasing number of patients in their own homes.

'We can create a shared vision as to how we can enhance our practice'

I am aware of the many challenges we face daily. The skills I have learned have given me the tools to undertake practice developments.

Person-centred practice is about considering the needs of all those at the centre of care and implicit in this is respectful working relationships with our colleagues.

By critically exploring and challenging our own values and beliefs, we can create a shared vision as to how we can enhance our practice.

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