My job

My job: practice nurse Margaret Kerr

Practice nurse Margaret Kerr explains why the biggest challenge nurses face is time.
Margaret Kerr

Practice nurse Margaret Kerr explains why the biggest challenge nurses face is time

What is your job?

I have two jobs. In my main job I work as a practice nurse with GPs in general practice at Antrim Health Centre. The second, I work as a triage nurse with Dalriada Urgent Care for seven hours a week.

Where did you train?

I trained as a general nurse in the Mater Infirmorum Hospital Belfast and then as a midwife in Altnagelvin Area Hospital, Derry. After qualifying, I volunteered as a nurse midwife from 1984-1986 in Nigeria. I returned to the Mater Hospital during 1986-1990 as a night shift/ward sister.

In 1999, I moved into general practice. This was a great way of moving forward but it required a lot of training. I thought it was an excellent opportunity

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Practice nurse Margaret Kerr explains why the biggest challenge nurses face is time

What is your job?

I have two jobs. In my main job I work as a practice nurse with GPs in general practice at Antrim Health Centre. The second, I work as a triage nurse with Dalriada Urgent Care for seven hours a week.

Margaret Kerr

Where did you train?

I trained as a general nurse in the Mater Infirmorum Hospital Belfast and then as a midwife in Altnagelvin Area Hospital, Derry. After qualifying, I volunteered as a nurse midwife from 1984-1986 in Nigeria. I returned to the Mater Hospital during 1986-1990 as a night shift/ward sister.

In 1999, I moved into general practice. This was a great way of moving forward but it required a lot of training. I thought it was an excellent opportunity to have one-to-one with patients and to date I’m very happy with my choice.

How and where did you develop your skills?

I have always kept my training up to date as I believe that nursing is life-long learning. I have diplomas in asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, cervical screening, and heart disease. I achieved my nursing degree in 1999 and became a specialist nurse practitioner by incorporating a nurse practitioner diploma. In 2012, I did my non-medical independent prescribing.  

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love the variety. I enjoy doing diverse clinics rather than concentrating on just the one thing. I am very passionate about women's health and cervical screening. It’s also gratifying as I build relationships with the patient and the patients' family over a period of time and I like that continuity of care.

What is your greatest challenge?

Time. There are so many chronic diseases to keep patients reviewed on. Another recent challenge is providing travel advice as the area is constantly evolving.

What has given you the most satisfaction?

When I’ve made a difference and there’s real turn around in someone’s health. One example was when I established the first Farmer’s Market Health Checks to provide accessible healthcare to people who were socially isolated.

In rural areas, I realised farmers weren't taking an active part in any healthcare screening and found it difficult to attend appointments. To make it more accessible, I went to the farmer's market and the farmers started coming to me to discuss health checks.

What is your greatest achievement?

I won the RCN Northern Ireland Practice Nurse Award 2016 for my contribution to practice nursing for over 26 years.

One project related to cervical screening. The all-male GP practice I joined had a cervical screening rate of 18% and I raised it to 82% after three years. In this rural community, the patients were inhibited attending a male GP for screening. When I did my cervical screening diploma, I publicised that a female was available to perform screening.

Patients were more comfortable which led to an enhanced screening uptake. 

Outside work what do you enjoy doing?

My passion is travelling and seeing other cultures. I'm involved in supporting the developing world and I enjoy fundraising.

What advice would you give to a newly registered nurse?

Get a good level of basic knowledge of general nursing, and if possible go overseas. Don't just get a job near home. Don't settle down too quickly. That’s something that you can look back on and bring skills back to your job.

What makes a good community or primary care nurse?

Having an interest in a wide variety of diseases such as COPD, heart disease and respiratory will be your strength. Be approachable in your manner, you may be more important to that person than you could credit.

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