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Elizabeth Smyth

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  • Elizabeth Smyth
  • Medicines Management Specialist Nurse

What has been your most memorable moment during your career in nursing?

I have had many memorable moments over my career but the most significant one has been my publication entitled ‘Applying the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) model to assess the skills of home care workers in assisting older people taking prescribed medications’ (British Journal of Community August 2015 Vol 20 No 8) https://www.magonlinelibrary.com/doi/abs/10.12968/bjcn.2015.20.8.40).

As the only Medicines Management Specialist Nurse in Northern Ireland, I recognised medications administration and management in the community was no longer the sole responsibility of registered nurses. Home care workers were assisting with medicines regimens that were often complex. However there was a significant gap in training and assessment processes to ensure that this large group of staff were competent to perform medication tasks unsupervised.

Using my research I developed an OSCE style assessment process for Domiciliary Care Workers within the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, which was ground breaking and has ensured the Trust that the domiciliary care workforce  is skilled and confident to administer medications.

Refining my skills so that I was able to write for publication and knowing that it would be read by many professionals and used to inform safe systems for safe medicines administration to patients/ clients in the community is thrilling.

Having been involved in many service development initiatives before, it was nice to have this one acknowledged and it encouraged me to keep striving for better outcomes for my patients and to share my knowledge and expertise widely to effect change.

What do you value most about nursing?

I value being able to make a difference to both patients and staff, by ensuring staff are educated  and feel competent and confident to administer medicines safely in community facilities and to patients in their own home from all programmes of care.

I value the governance structure that systems, processes, policies and procedures offer to all those who administer medication and I value knowing that the medicines procedures I have developed are based on up to date research/ evidence so as to protect both staff and patients.  I value being able to support nursing colleagues by providing advice/ guidance and help them problem solve complex medicines issues. I also value being part of a multi-disciplinary team particularly the link with pharmacy and seeing how each discipline works together for the safe delivery of care to patients/clients.

What motivates you to stay in this area of nursing practice?

I enjoy working with a large number of staff across all community facilities from the statutory, private  and voluntary sectors  - being able to build relationships and being a useful resource for staff.

 I am motivated to stay in this area as I have a passion for safe and effective patient care.  Being able to influence safe  administration of  medicines and reduce risk to patients/ clients is what its all about. I also have a passion to see people learn and develop their skills.

 I strive to see a change in culture within some of the staff groups and find ways to bridge the theory practice gap. My work is not complete until all this is  achieved, but together we all achieve measurable change.

What would you say to someone considering a career in nursing?

I would advise anyone considering a career in nursing to ask themselves what difference do I hope to make. Then set about developing a range of skills and unique experiences during your education so that you can be the best and most authentic nurse you can be.  From this foundation you will find a range of career pathways you can find fulfilling.

I would emphasise the importance of good communication skills and the ability to work in a team, having an understanding of others roles and how we impact on them. Always taking time to listen to the patient and your colleagues. Be the facilitator who makes the difference make them central in care provision.

I would advocate lifelong learning and encourage them to widen their knowledge base and skill development through job rotation and by completing post graduate education.

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