Lynda Haire, 39, (second from right) works as a practice nurse at the Family Practice Strabane in Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland. A position she has held for five years.
What inspired you to become a nurse?
From a young child I had always wanted to be a nurse. I cared for my father when he was diabetic and I used to help give him his injections when I was about ten years old. I very much took on the caring role in the family.
How do you start your day every morning?
I am a full-time mum and I work full-time at the practice. So my day starts with getting my two children ready for school and getting them out to their grannies. I generally arrive at work for around twenty to nine each morning. When I get to work the first thing I do is turn my computer on and check my emails and practice notes. I then make sure the equipment in my clinic is ready. I run the following clinics: COPD, asthma, diabetes, CHD, smear clinics, anti-coagulation, mental health reviews, learning disability, and immunisations.
How do you relax and unwind after a day’s work?
I usually go to the gym or go for a long walk. I have also just completed BCU star 2 in whitewater kayaking, which was a challenge but I enjoy it and it’s good to do something different.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
Everything. I find every day a challenge but the most important thing is seeing the patient smile. Getting positive feedback from the GPs and seeing a good turnout at the clinics as well is great. In the five years I have been here, there has been a much better turnout at clinics and communication is much better and patients generally are very happy.
What is the most challenging part of your day?
Time management would be a big thing for me. Clinics are quite busy and I have a big workload. As well as this you have only got so long with each patient, usually 15-20 minutes depending on what clinic you are doing. It is so important to make time for patients and on those occasions where you need a little longer; you need to bring them back to the practice at another, more suitable, time. Trying to keep up to date with everything is also challenging as so many things are changing. It is important to keep your skills up to date by taking part in courses/diplomas. I am also secretary for a practice nurse forum, which keeps and other practice nurses up-to-date about what’s happening in primary care and it allows us to update our professional knowledge and competence.
Do you think the administration burden on nurses is excessive?
Nowadays you have to justify absolutely everything that you do so you have to document. Obviously record keeping is so so important for continuity. But I think there is a higher dependence on computers now thanks to the increased levels of access and I think there is less administration for me personally, because of the software available. In some cases, paperwork is just part of the job and that is always going to be there.
Do you get enough face-to-face time with patients?
I always get the face-to-face contact with patients, but me personally, I would like more time. I find that you get better compliance when patients see nurses because the doctors generally have a 10-minute review and I will have 15-20 minutes. So I would find that patients would open up more to the nurse because you have given them the time to air any problems they have. Whereas the GP review is very task-centred.
Do you think nursing is a more or less respected profession than it was in the past?
It depends on where you are working and your nurse-patient relationships. Certainly I get a lot of respect from my patients because I would have a lot of regular patients from my clinics. But it is hard to please everyone. There definitely is an element of respect out there and I think patients do expect more from nurses. However, doctors do still receive more respect from patients, even though nurses would give patients more time and would be more holistic in providing care.
Where do you see yourself in five year’s time?
I would see myself as a nurse practitioner in five years time and that is what I am working towards now. I really would be interested in doing coils and nexplanon training but in order for me to do that I would have to have my family planning qualification and that is something I want to do this year. Once I have got that, I feel I will then have the skills to move up and then nurse prescribing would ultimately be what I would like to do.
Are you surprised by how much you get done in a day?
Extremely surprised. I will now log all my telephone consultations as well and it is unbelievable what you can cover in a day. Because I work on my own – there is one of me and four GPs and I work solely for them – you have to be very autonomous and you have to be able to show initiative and be able to work on your own otherwise you wouldn’t be able to survive.
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