My job

'Never forget why you became a nurse'

Advanced nurse practitioner Lucy Archer began her training in French and European studies, but after deciding that was not the career for her, she ventured into nursing. 

Advanced nurse practitioner Lucy Archer began her training in French and European studies, but after deciding that was not the career for her, she ventured into nursing 

What is your job?

I am an independent advanced nurse practitioner with a special interest in cardiology. I work on a consultancy basis as a clinical nurse specialist and clinical consultant, and I also develop and deliver education and training for pre-registration nurses, registered nurses and healthcare assistants.

I am the nurse lead for the Essex Primary Care Inter-Professional Centre for Workforce Development. Our aim is to support the workforce in primary care and address the ongoing difficulty in recruiting, developing and retaining GPs, practice nurses and primary care staff in Essex.

Why did you become a nurse?

I did not know what I wanted to do for a career. I went to university to study French and European Studies, but while working abroad I decided that this was not the right career direction for me.

I wanted to do something that I felt made a difference, and would give me a sense of worthwhile achievement at the end of each day, so I left university and started my nurse training. Twenty-nine years later I am still glad I made that decision.

Where did you train?

I trained in Colchester, Essex, and was in the first cohort of Project 2000 (an initiative to move nurse training away from the practical to the classroom).

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Nursing has a wide range of opportunities and constant new challenges. I like working on different projects and I enjoy the variety and flexibility that having a portfolio career brings.

What is your greatest challenge?

Completing my MSc in advanced clinical practice while working full-time as a single parent of two young children

What has given you most satisfaction?

I enjoy using my nursing skills to encourage positive change in others. It could be making a patient feel better by relieving their symptoms or enabling them to regain their independence, or it could be supporting and encouraging the students I teach to master new skills.

What nursing achievement makes you most proud?

Winning an NHS Alliance Acorn Award for developing a community-based specialist nursing service for patients with heart failure.

What or who inspires you, and why?

I am inspired by the next generation of nurses. I am always delighted when a healthcare assistant I have taught or mentored decides to train as a registered nurse and I try to encourage and support them to achieve this goal.

Outside work what do you enjoy doing?

I enjoy exercising regularly and socialising with family and friends.

What makes a good community or primary care nurse?

Nursing in primary care requires flexibility and good sense of humour.

What advice would you give a newly registered nurse?

Get as much varied experience as you can as this will stand you in good stead further on in your career and create opportunities for you. Never forget why you became a nurse.

How does your current job make use of your skills?

I have been a ward nurse, a community nurse, a general practice nurse, a specialist cardiac nurse, a nurse educator and involved in strategic development. My current role allows me to use all the skills I have acquired throughout my career from clinical skills to teaching and strategy development.

What is likely to affect nurses working in primary care over the next 12 months?

Workforce issues will continue to affect nurses working in primary care over the next 12 months. There is a shortage of nurses in general practice and community nursing and many are due to retire before too long. Also new clinical roles, such as the physician associate, are being developed. All of this will have a significant impact on nurses working in primary care.  

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