My job

‘Make the most of every learning opportunity’

Elizabeth Smyth, a medicines management specialist nurse at Craigavon Area Hospital in Northern Ireland, describes her role and reveals the advice she would give a newly registered nurse

Elizabeth Smyth, a medicines management specialist nurse at Craigavon Area Hospital in Northern Ireland, describes her role and reveals the advice she would give a newly registered nurse

What does your current role involve?

I provide specialist nursing expertise and leadership in medicines management for domiciliary care workers who administer medicines in a person's own home. I also provide training to nurses and support workers who administer medicines in adult and children's services in trust facilities, such as day care, residential care, supported living and respite facilities.

I design and deliver medicines management education and training programmes, and develop service initiatives for medicines management across these sectors.

Why did you become a nurse?

My decision to become a nurse was impulsive. However, it was the right move as I have had a very enjoyable and rewarding career.

What might you have done otherwise?

I originally wanted to become a teacher. My role involves teaching so I have had the privilege of being able to combine my two job aspirations.

Where did you train?

I trained in the Belfast City Hospital School of Nursing. I qualified as a registered nurse in 1981 and staffed in a general hospital before completing my district nursing qualification in 1986, then worked in the community for 14 years. In 2000 I moved to a role as a back-care adviser and in 2009 was appointed medicines management specialist nurse in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy working with a diverse range of staff, carers and patients across statutory and voluntary sectors, building trust and professional relationships to advance patient safety at different levels.

I am professionally stimulated through policy development and reviewing systems, working to improve safety. I find the teaching aspect of my role particularly rewarding. It is thrilling to see staff develop their skills and knowledge and progress into more senior roles. I coach patients and staff to reflect on their medicines management skills and practices, and it is rewarding when they use me as a resource to improve their practice.

What advice would you give to nurses taking on a similar role of medicines management specialist nurse?

My advice is to be visible in areas of responsibility, to build relationships and gain understanding. Be approachable and flexible to find solutions together. Ensure that the organisation has your programme of change included in its strategy and wider operational plans so change can be driven at all levels. Be patient, as it takes time to become established in the role and gain credibility. Changing culture requires a lot of patience.

What or who inspires you, and why?

I am inspired by staff who have a desire to develop their knowledge and skills to ensure patient safety.

Outside work what do you enjoy doing?

I enjoy spending time with my family. I am also involved in my local church and spending time at my holiday home in North Antrim, Northern Ireland, which allows me to enjoy lovely coastal walks.

What makes a good medicines management specialist nurse?

Good interpersonal skills and being organised while also being flexible are essential to the role. Having the determination to keep striving to promote patient safety is also critical.

What advice would you give a newly registered nurse?

I would advise a newly registered nurse to gain a wide variety of skills and experience and make the most of every learning opportunity.

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