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Why a sad occasion provided a lesson in teamwork

When I knew I was due to write "My Week" this week, I thought it would be easy. After all, I would be at the Nursing in Practice Event in Newcastle and I could write about the day. However, the Event was overshadowed by the death of one of the key members of the organisers' team, Elizabeth Yareham.

"Lizi" was the pocket dynamo behind many of the Nursing in Practice activities. As Head of Events at the media company responsible for Nursing in Practice, she was the driving force behind the scenes of the conferences' success. Her untimely death highlights how precious life is, and that our life lived now is so important.

It also brought home to me how, as nurses, we can learn from others whom we work alongside. One of the joys of being involved in Nursing in Practice is working with publishing professionals and conference teams that we in healthcare might not otherwise have much to do with. I am always impressed with their professionalism, but this recent experience has highlighted to me the importance of leadership and teamwork. I was tremendously impressed by the Events team at Newcastle; in a dignified and efficient way, they ensured that the day ran smoothly and was a fitting tribute to their colleague.

In the NHS and Higher Education, we could learn a lot about working for each other rather than against. I see too many innovative and dynamic nurses squashed by their colleagues. When this happens, all their enthusiasm and energy gradually dwindles, they give up trying to improve patient care and take the backseat, waiting to be told what to do next. It's such a shame that this happens, and I hope we can recognise this and intervene if we see examples of these injustices.

As a teacher in nursing, I am always exploring ways of enabling practitioners to learn from the world around them. Lifelong learning is becoming an increasingly important part of improving practice. It should not be seen as a policy doctrine, but demonstrates how it can improve both patients' experience and our working lives.

Lifelong learning should be a win/win situation. If we find time for ourselves to reflect on the world around us, we can learn from many of our experiences and transfer our observations and insights from one area of life into another.

Although I work in education, I don't believe that all learning has to be accessed via traditional routes, nor for nursing do we necessarily need to access just nursing courses. Sometimes I believe we should follow our heart and be receptive to the world around us and learn from that. If you equip yourself with the skills and knowledge to learn from the world around you, going to university and following that route won't be so onerous or boring – you might enjoy it and then, like me, become an advocate for lifelong learning.

There's no shame in not always knowing, but knowing how to find things out can be exciting and liberating. Go on – try it!