Nicola and Sarah are two exceptional nurses who are receiving our GAMA Infection Prevention Scholarship. We're providing a full scholarship, covering all tuition fees, for them to each study a Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Practice with focus on Infection Prevention.
We caught up with both of them shortly after they'd received the good news.
Tell me about yourself?
I went to school and studied nursing and then spent 6 and half years in intensive care, getting myself a sister's post there. But I'd always had an interest in infection control, so, when a post came up, in my same hospital, I jumped at it. With intensive care you have a lot of very sick patients, and a lot of them don't do so well and it's hard. But, with infection control, you can make a big difference to a huge number of people.
How long was it since you moved into infection prevention?
18 months but, in intensive care, a lot of the patients that come in have infections and sepsis so you get quite involved with it anyway. More than the general wards, it gets really embedded into your practice because it's life or death for those patients.
Do you have any advice for any nurses looking to move into infection prevention?
In our hospital, we don't have link nurses – but I do think that's a really important role. I think that if they can increase their own knowledge, and become specialists within their own team, then they can have quite a big impact on their area. That can be the kind of thing that really helps them get into the post.
Why did you apply for the PG(Dip)?
I've been in the role for 18 months, and I've learnt a lot on the job, but I just felt like I could do with some formal education. Just to underpin that and deal with the finer understanding of how infections are spread, how the process works. Hopefully by understanding that, it'll give us a better idea of what we can do to actually prevent them.
What appealed about the course at the University of West London?
The lecturers are a massive thing because they're so renowned in the field – I mean, you've got 3 authors of the Epic 3 guidelines in there. These are teaching specialists with such a wealth of knowledge on the subject. Who better to teach than the best?
What does the course mean to you?
Oh gosh. Well it's good for my own personal development, and hopefully it'll be a huge stepping stone in that respect, but – hopefully – it'll have a positive effect on the patients that we look after in our health boards. Anything I learn and any research that I do can hopefully be applied back to them.
Any final thoughts?
Just thank you very much for the opportunity. I'm not sure it would be happening if it wasn't for the scholarship so thank very much to GAMA.
Thanks Nicola, it was great chatting with you. Hope all goes well with the course and it gives you a stepping stone as you start the next stage in your career.
Tell me about yourself?
I qualified in 2011, working various jobs between orthopaedics and plastics – so I'm surgical nurse trained – and that was at Guy's & St. Thomas' in London. Then, this year, I moved over to Oxford John Radcliffe in an infection prevention and control nurse role. I was previously an IPC link nurse at my old trust for a year and a half, which is where a lot of my interest has come from. I've done various in-house courses as I've gone along. I'm very keen to get a master's because I was unable to attend my graduation ceremony or get a graduation picture for my undergraduate degree – for various reasons – but, because I hadn't done that, I'm very motivated to get myself a photo with the hat and gown. As well, because I'm so interested in evidence-based practice, I'm very keen on education to underpin that.
I've done one level 7 course at my previous job in plastics, a breast care course, which I did very well in and got a distinction. That spurred me on to say "actually I can do this" so, when my colleague emailed me about the scholarship, I thought there's nothing to lose in trying to apply – funding for education can be hard to come by.
How did you first get interested in infection prevention?
I think it probably stemmed from working in orthopaedics. You can end up with nasty infections like osteomyelitis and things related to that. Going into plastics and being surgically trained meant I was trained on things like wound infections. I think I'm a bit of a perfectionist as well when it comes to things like ANTT, cannulation, wound care and completing tasks to a high standard – I think it's built into my personality.
Are you planning on doing the full MSc?
That would be the aim. Obviously, we'll see how I go and see where we are with circumstances in 2 years' time but that's the plan so that I can graduate. I think I'll work harder at my master's: I think you look at it differently than when you do your first degree. It's a lot harder and requires a lot more of you – there's no just "getting through it".
Thanks Sarah, good luck with the course! Hope you get a really nice photo with your cap and gown!