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Following my basic training I undertook a BSc in Health Studies at Queen's University Belfast. I wished to take the opportunity to gain my degree before I entered permanent employment. The course included modules in decision making, health promotion and community nursing. I then began my career as a 'D' grade staff nurse in a theatre/ recovery setting and for two years I worked within a team of nurses under the leadership of a sister who was quite authoritarian in her approach. It was her leadership that had a significant impact on my nursing career. I was able to develop many skills including use of patient controlled analgesia, central line management and catheter care. During this time I realized that my interests lay in community nursing and having secured a post as a staff nurse in the community I soon began to act up when required for the caseload sister I was assigned with. I decided to complete a specialist course in community nursing which helped me to develop my professional skills and reflect on practices I where I felt my competency required enhancing. During this time I was involved in setting up a warfarin clinic in collaboration with district nurses and treatment-room nursing staff. I am continuing to develop areas of interest such as my role as a teacher/practitioner. I am currently responsible for pre-registration students on placement in my area and have completed a number of courses to assist me with that role.
I feel that it is helpful to view community nursing as a specialty similar to working in a theatre setting or Intensive Care. It is an area that is currently developing and becoming very specialised and exciting. It is not necessary to have community experience to gain a junior staff nurse's post so if this is an area you are interested in try a move into a junior post first and decide from there. Use all your experience already gained to progress in seniority and take every opportunity to complete courses relevant to the specialty.
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