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The posts I occupied as a staff nurse in a medical ward, Health Visitor and Lecturer Practitioner in Health Visiting all contributed to my personal and professional development in significant but differing ways. I obtained my Registered Nurse qualification when I completed a degree in nursing which was an excellent foundation for both my clinical practice and for further studies. I then worked for five years as a staff nurse in a medical ward and this consolidated communication, clinical, leadership, organisational and management skills. This time also reinforced my wish to work in a preventative public health role so that I was ready when an opportunity arose to apply for a secondment training post for health visiting. I spent five years in a health visiting post which developed my understanding of inequalities in health, wider societal issues impinging on children, families and communities' health & well-being. During this time I was involved in teaching students on specialist practice courses and it was a natural progression to move to a lecturer practitioner post where I had the opportunity to work with groups of students. I gained experience in a range of teaching and learning strategies, information and communication technology, research, quality assurance in higher education, educational audit and curriculum development. The Trust component of the post has presented a range of opportunities to develop skills through practice development and through working with external agencies such as NIPEC.
I would encourage any nurse, midwife or health visitor with an interest in child protection to consider a Child Protection Nurse Specialist (CPNS) post as it does provide a real opportunity to effect change. I think it would be useful to talk to your own line manager about your interest in the role and then arrange to shadow a CPNS to get further insight into the role and responsibilities of the post. I would also encourage a colleague considering this type of post to do a Masters degree in a related field as this should develop critical thinking abilities.
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