In this assignment I am going to use Gibbs (1988) Reflective Cycle, a recognised framework for reflection, to demonstrate my ability to reflect on my educational and professional progress made from the start of this course. Reflective practice is associated with learning from experience and is viewed as an important strategy for health professionals who embrace life-long learning. The act of reflection is seen as a way of promoting the development of autonomous, qualified and self-directed professionals. Engaging in reflective practice is associated with the improvement in the quality of care, stimulating personal and professional growth, and closing the gap between theory and practice, NHS (2008).
From being a small girl I had always wanted to be a nurse, becoming a mother in my teens put paid to that dream. I would occasionally read my old school reports and in nearly all of them from being 11 years old they would read “Rose wishes to pursue a career in nursing”, due to having a mortgage and bills it was imperative that I worked to help support the family so college/university was not an option open to me. I had a few part time jobs while my children were growing up and came to work for the National Health Service (NHS) in 1998, within a busy general practice, as a receptionist.
The practice nurse reawakened my desire to be in the caring profession, and after three years of being a receptionist was asked by the senior partner if I would like to progress in my career and become a Healthcare Assistant (HCA). I was overjoyed at the prospect this opportunity could essentially bring me, and went on many courses including Phlebotomy, BP monitoring, smoking cessation and weight management to enable me to start holding my own clinics, with my own patients. I was then approached regarding the TAP course by the senior GP and here the FdA programme begins.
As I entered university on the first day I felt both apprehensive and excited. Here I was, finally living the dream. The apprehension soon subsided as everybody on the FdA programme felt the same. I distinctly remember sat in the first tutorial about caring and the word “plagiarism” was mentioned repeatedly throughout the day. I had never heard of the word but didn’t ask what it meant for fear of “looking stupid”. I neednt have bothered as I later learned that most of the other students didn’t know either. I felt that I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to make a difference in my career and am grateful to my employer and MMU for allowing me this opportunity, Naturally I intend to grab it with both hands.
I have at times felt overwhelmed with the work load, working full time, having a family to look after, a new grandson and trying to maintain a social life has been difficult, and this, I have found has been my biggest obstacle. The first assignment relating to an ethical issue within my practice area really challenged my academic ability but by persevering and reading as much material as I could, I received a good mark. The sheer relief of obtaining a pass inspired me to try harder with all future subsequent assignments. I am still awaiting the results for Community Awareness and Mental Health and will be relieved when I receive them and get a pass mark (hopefully). Managing my time better by creating a timetable, which I can realistically adhere to, would be beneficial to me.
Although I have had a relatively good education obtaining good results, I was initially struggling with assignments, especially referencing, “Harvard referencing, what is that!” but now find I am becoming more confident in my academic writing. I enjoy most of the tutorials, the exception being Health and Safety, but do realise why it is so significant and why I have been taught the principles of H&S. I look forward to completing the work books with enthusiasm, which gives me a great sense of satisfaction when I have completed them. The reading, surfing the web for information has become second nature to me now and I positively embrace the challenge each new module and assignment brings.
As I reflect on the transition from HCA to TAP I realise how much I have learnt in relation to my academic and nursing career. Within my role as HCA I was not aware of the legal and ethical issues surrounding patient and work colleague’s safety and had never really given any thought to it. With the expansion of my role from HCA to AP I will be learning and subsequently carrying out new skills.
As I become competent in these skills I will be accountable for my actions. Nurses have been legally accountable since 1919 with the passing of the Nurses Registration Acts, but it is only since the United Kingdom Central Council (UKCC), (now the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) introduced the Code of Conduct (1992) and Scope of Professional Practice (1992) that nurses have been able to develop their own autonomy and thus be accountable for their own practice. In November 2004 these documents were combined into the single NMC’s Code of Professional Conduct: standards for conduct performance and ethics. Within my role I follow the Conduct Guidance for Assistant Practitioners, in which one of the statements describes the standards of professional conduct and practice required of APs as they go about their daily work. The guidance states that I must be accountable for my quality of work and take responsibility for maintaining and improving my knowledge and skills.
I realise the importance of learning and positively embrace the challenge of learning new skills. My electives next year will enable me to further expand my knowledge, to give the best possible patient care while having the competence and confidence in myself to deliver. It is imperative that I continue to read and digest as much literature as possible relevant to my chosen subjects, search reputable internet sources and read journals to broaden my awareness and knowledge.
Although the 1st year has been quite challenging for me at times, I feel I have been very fortunate to be given the opportunity to learn and benefit from the FdA programme. My mentor is enthusiastic and encourages me in my journey through the course. She is always accessible and takes time to explain anything I do not fully understand (sometimes more than once!). She has every confidence in my ability to be a competent AP. I have also have gained a significant amount of insight into practice nursing and it is my intention to further my career once I have completed the foundation degree.
My ultimate goal long term, is to become a competent practice nurse, providing an excellent standard of holistic care for patients. I feel I have grown in character and confidence and am more able to answer patient queries and explain conditions in greater detail than I would have previously. This has undoubtedly enhanced my clinical skills which I hope to expand further in year 2. I have also chosen Health promotion, community and primary care and older people. Currently our practice population of over 65’s is over 18.3%, by gaining knowledge in these areas will benefit the practice, the patients and myself.