Tag Archives: nursing

Stuff and general nonsense

Having got one interview out of the way, I have today found another job I would like to apply for (at my current uni – not that I’m desperate to work for a Russell Group uni, but this looks like it would be a less ‘political’ job than many academic jobs can be). There’s also another one (at a rival Glasgow uni) that I’d love but which is probably too high-flying for me – but I will apply anyway and see what happens. I’ll also apply (rather half-heartedly I have to admit) for a part time health visiting job – it’s just that if neither of us have a job for much longer, then it is a “better than nothing” scenario until something permanent comes up, though I have to say I’m really not desperate to be a HV here.

I have also found an online course, run by the same rival Glasgow uni I spotted the job in, for the branch of nursing I really want to go into, alongside any teaching/research that I end up doing. It is even affordable, and being online means that it is doable with a full-time job. And they sort out practice placements and things – one thing that had worried me about the course up till now is the fact that because I wouldn’t be sponsored by an NHS employer it would be difficult to be accepted as a placement student, as I could (in effect) be anyone. [If I got onto the course, it would be my 6th university. How sad is that?!]

All of this is entirely hypothetical as HD (or I, for that matter) could still get a job miles away from Glasgow, or even not in Scotland at all. But he has an interview here next week, so any prayers/candles/good vibes/etc appreciated!

Of course, if I did get onto that course, it would mean that I wouldn’t have to change the name of my blog. I’ve been thinking that as I’m coming to the end of the PhD maybe it’s time soon to retire “the maturest student in the world” and come up with a new blog title. The way job-hunting is going, I briefly flirted with the idea of renaming it “Would you like fries with that?”

Thanks to Auntie Doris, who has just been on the receiving end of an enormous whingeing screed of streams of consciousness from me, the rest of you don’t need to read me whining and moaning. She does have her uses, you know!

What else to tell you? The temperature in my office got up to 30° today, so I gave up and went to the gym instead – I thought if I’m getting sweaty and bad-tempered I may as well be sweaty and bad-tempered whilst actually achieving something, as I’m not convinced my brain ever got out of 1st gear. While I was there I watched the final set of the Williams-Dementieva Wimbledon semi-final (hooray for machines with TV), what a fantastic match that was. I’m glad I’d finished by the second semi though (Williams-Safina) which sounded from the scoreline like it was so one-sided as to be utterly uncompetitive. I predict a Williams winner 😉

I’m having another thesis-related existential crisis (it seems to happen every chapter), though having managed to draw a couple of spider diagrams today I have (for now) decided I know what my thesis is about. This is today though, tomorrow is an entirely different day and I may well have forgotten the point of it by then. I’m getting quite frustrated with it – the stuff I’m writing for journals etc feels like it’s so much better than the stuff I’m writing for the thesis. It’ll be good when it’s all over! By the way, if anyone is in a praying/good vibes/candle-lighting/etc mood, next week a decision will be made about whether or not I can have an extension. I’m working on the assumption that it shouldn’t be a problem (according to my department) but until I hear for sure I will remain a bit anxious about it. If I don’t get it I am, to put it mildly, screwed. If I do get it, then I will feel much less stressed about taking time out to apply for jobs (I’ve got a few applications which need to be in in the next week or so).

Ooh, good (ish) news – I have an interview in a couple of weeks for one of the Open Uni courses I applied to tutor on. As I understand it it’s pretty competitive, but it would be good experience if I could get it. I’ve also (at last) completed my nursing study hours (did I tell you that already, I can’t remember. Actually I think I probably did) so am just waiting for my friend to send the reference back and then I can see about getting some nursing work. Unfortunately I discovered the other day that the nurse bank for Greater Glasgow isn’t recruiting for community nurses at all, but just for certain acute specialities (that I don’t have any experience in, or any desire to work in), which got me a bit despondent, but I’m thinking instead about applying to NHS24 (the Scotland equivalent of NHS Direct south of the border – it’s a nurse-led phone service). Not that I’m desperate to do that either, but it could be something to keep me going for a while till something more suitable turns up.

Tomorrow we are treating ourselves, as what with poorly cars and writers’ block and no jobs etc we could do with a treat, and are going to the Dr Who exhibition at the Kelvingrove Museum. Can’t wait! (will take photos, unsurprisingly).

The end is in sight

Or the beginning, depending on how you look at it! I’ve finally today (after ages procrastinating, which I’m sure will come as a huge shock to everyone) finished writing up my reflections on the 35 hours of study (which at times felt like 35 years) that I’ve done over the last few weeks in order to qualify for re-entry onto the nursing register. Now all I need to do is magic £76 out of thin air to pay for it, and persuade my friend to write me a reference (she’s just about the only person I can think of who fits the bill: qualified nurse, known me over a year, has had contact with me in the last 6 months. Never mind that our contact over the last 6 months has been primarily playing Scrabble on facebook, they don’t need to know that! Hopefully she’ll agree).

In other news, as several people here will have noticed, I have joined twitter. I know I was dubious and sceptical (I’m still not entirely undubious or unsceptical), but given that a. it seems to be being used more and more in academia and I think might be useful for networking, especially given that lots of people I’m interested in aren’t UK-based, and b. Moldova is having a rerun of their elections in July and Twitter played a huge role in mobilising people to protest after the April elections, so I want to watch what is happening there, it seemed like a good idea on the whole. At the moment it seems like the good bit of facebook that they ditched after the last upgrade (the friends’ status updates page), though that’s probably because I am mostly following friends so far. I also think that writing in 140 characters or fewer will be very good for me – I’ll struggle to keep my thesis below 100K words, so if I can get into the habit of not being so pompous and verbose then that will be a good discipline I suspect 🙂

Pecking orders

One of the funny things this week about attending all these nursing lectures was seeing and reflecting on academic and professional hierarchies. Nursing in many Russell Group universities (like the one I attend, for example) is very much the poor relation – it was made a degree subject only in the 1990s (prior to that nurse education was done through the health service rather than university), and so there wasn’t an established cadre of nurse educators with degrees and doctorates and academic track records. So even now you’ll find that many of the educators on degree courses have a degree but of those with postgrad qualifications, probably the majority have a masters degree rather than a PhD. Now, I’m not arguing for or against that, just saying that’s the situation. Arguably the most helpful qualification is a healthy dose of common sense and ability to communicate, rather than have an ever-expanding list of letters after your name.

Recently a large nursing school, part of a large well-established (not Russell Group, but not a post-1992) university, closed down. I see this as a worrying trend – large universities attract a lot of funding by undertaking and publishing research, and whilst nursing has a part to play in this, of course the bulk of the focus is on vocational training, and so nursing and similar departments are seen as poor relations and I’m sure there are many nursing departments facing tough situations – it wouldn’t surprise me if in a few years all nurse education is done by the red-brick, post-1992 more teaching-intensive universities. I think this is sad – speaking as someone with a foot in both vocational and academic camps, I think that the discipline of nursing has a huge amount to offer academia, especially in terms of qualitative research. I can think of at least two of my colleagues in my current department, not nurses at all, who have drawn on stuff in the Journal of Advanced Nursing when writing up their research methods, and both said how the nursing literature has a lot of really useful, good quality and practical articles which are helpful for researchers in other fields too.

I started thinking about all this after the first session of the week, when the lecturer introduced me to the class as a PhD student and health visitor who would be sitting in on the week’s lectures. He then said something a bit later about academic and work hierarchies (I forget in which context) and I smiled as I recognised what he meant, thinking to myself about how I am a *mere* PhD student in a department of professors, senior lecturers etc etc. He saw me smiling and said something along the lines of “Yes, exactly – a PhD here, so top of the tree, I’ve just got a Masters”, and it gave me a real “cognitive dissonance” moment – I am used to seeing myself as near the bottom of the academic pile, and here I was being presented as at the top. That was a bit odd, especially as in that particular context I would regard him as much more senior and “up there” than me – he has an academic lecturing post, and has published extensively, something to which I’m still just aspiring.

It also got me thinking about even among PhD students there is a hierarchy. My first couple of years I felt clueless and like I would never reach the heady heights that my more experienced colleagues had reached. That changed when I did my fieldwork – having my own data that I could discuss, rather than just talk about other people’s work, marked a definite move up the ladder. I’ve noticed that the PhD students in my department who have only started in the last academic year or two treat me differently to how they treat each other – I have reached the dizzy heights of post-fieldwork PhD student.

The same thing happened in the nursing dept this week – the PhD thing wasn’t such a big “wow” thing for them (though a number came up to me and asked about what I was researching), but a couple of the students asked me for career advice (hahahahaha, stop laughing at the back). One really wanted to be a health visitor (hooray!) and was worried that by doing adult nursing she was not going the right way about getting into health visiting, so she was very relieved to hear about my own journey to health visiting. The other one though was asking my advice on choosing her final year placement options, despite the fact that I have no experience in the possible areas she was interested in pursuing. Just the fact that I was qualified placed me “up there” as someone credible to give that sort of advice. That was quite sobering.

And yet despite all this, despite all the experience of moving (or being seen to be) up the hierarchy and pecking order a bit, I have to be honest. I still feel like a total blagger.

Stuff

I’m enjoying this week of nursing lectures, it has worked out really well for my PREP/CPD requirements. Some of them are done by guest speakers and I have managed to arrange a day to observe one team of specialist HVs and I’m going to phone tomorrow to try to sort out another observation placement, so it looks like I should have got my hours sorted within the next month and can go back on the register. That will be a huge weight off my mind.

In other news, I went to see one of my supervisors today – I’ve been really struggling with my current thesis chapter, and it was stressing me out a lot. I’ve negotiated a new deadline, and let them know about my current thoughts (which don’t necessarily tie up with my writing-up timetable). She was really understanding and I feel much better about things. My 1st supervisor, who is currently away, will be back next week so a few more outstanding issues (including the potential of some extra writing-up time) will hopefully be sorted out in the next few weeks. That will be good.

Blast from the past

This week I am attending a series of lectures in the nursing school at university, in my attempt to regain my nurse registration. Today was the first day, it was actually very good (I have to say, the standard of the lecturer was much better than many of the lecturers I had when I was training), and one of the lectures even had relevance to my thesis as well as to nursing, so it was definitely worth going.

I’m afraid I made my escape early though – it took nearly all day, but I knew it would have to happen eventually.

Group work. Argh.

Missing a bit

The power pack to my laptop isn’t very happy – the last few days, despite being plugged in, it has seemed to decide whether or not to charge the battery based on minute positional changes which meant that I had to keep checking the bottom right hand corner to see if I needed to hit the power pack or not to stop the battery suddenly cutting out. Today, however much I waved it around it was just not going to work, so I’ve ordered another one and in the meantime I am on HD’s big PC. Which is great, as I never have a screen this big so that’s cool, but his funny pen-mouse-thingy (can’t remember what it’s called) is really hard work! I’m so used to a mouse or a touch pad on the laptop – getting used to this new gadget actually reminds me of the first time, way back when, that I started to use a mouse. The same frustration with the cursor seeming to jump all over the screen and not go where I want it to – I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but I’m looking forward to getting my laptop back! His @ and ” are round the other way from my laptop too, just to add to the general feeling of incompetence!

In other news, I’m meant to be finishing a book for my book group, which meets tomorrow evening. I started it a couple of weeks ago, but just 4 (very short) chapters in I already knew I didn’t like it, didn’t read it since and eventually thought I’d read at least some of it this afternoon so that I had something other than “I read the first few pages and hated it” to say. Unfortunately (;)) I appear to have left it at work, and I won’t be able to read it tomorrow because I’m at work (obviously!). That’s so sad (not). So, my half-baked book review based on about the first 10 pages – Carlos Ruiz Zafon “Shadow of the Wind” – don’t bother. It was a runaway bestseller a couple of years ago, apparently, and had great reviews, but it read like Dan Brown to me – cliched, hammy, obvious characters, clunky writing – sorry, life’s too short. So instead I picked up another book (which I’ll review when I get the laptop back!) which was much better, I’m nearly half-way through already and enjoying it much more. That’s more like it! I’ll see what the book group have to say about “Shadow of the Wind”, maybe if they all love it and rave about it I’ll give it another try. But I’m not going to hold my breath.

I’ve also been planning some nursing-related studying. I’m aiming to get myself back on the register in the next couple of months, hopefully, so need to do 35 hours of related study. I can use some PhD-related stuff – it’s a bit tenuous but close enough for my purposes that it will count. I’ve also identified a (free!) conference to go to, maybe (most of the good conferences that could count cost #200-300 (that’s pounds by the way, can’t figure out this keyboard) so that’s not going to happen any time soon!), and had a brainwave about shadowing someone so that it’s not all book-based. Will email around tomorrow to see if anyone’s willing to take me on for just a few hours to do that. This is getting serious. I’m starting to look at what jobs are around too – not that I’m ready to start applying yet, but it’s good to see what’s out there. It’s a bit scary!

Miscellaneous

Today was a bit of a write-off, and I was unable to enjoy this uncharacteristic good weather as the change in weather (and the arrival of some proper sun to go with the balmy 10 degree heatwave!) led to an evil headache. So I headed home after lunch and spent the afternoon in bed – still feeling a bit fragile but I’ve had worse headaches so hopefully by tomorrow I’ll be back to normal. I remember when I went to Romania the other year I spent the first couple of weeks with an almost permanent headache due to the air pressure change, it took me ages to adjust. I must be getting old.

Yesterday I had my penultimate day of tutorials. It wasn’t the greatest ever as tutorials go, but I did have an unexpected ‘pastoral moment’ where I was reminded of what I was good at when I was health visiting, how much I miss that side of things, and how if I get a job in academia (I’m looking at doing part-time nursing, part-time academia and some consultancy on the side, all of which will I think bring me closer to what I suspect my wider vocation might be) the aspect I will really enjoy is the pastoral, personal tutoring side of things. Not that I’m applying for anything yet, but I am starting to think about how to get a week’s worth of nursing-related study in in the next couple of months to get myself back on the register.

HD has a couple of phone interviews tomorrow; all prayers gratefully appreciated 🙂

Useful loopholes

I got my letter from the NMC (Nursing & Midwifery Council) this week confirming that come the 1st of October (next Wednesday!) I will no longer be on the register. It also had all sorts of blurb about what that means and stuff about returning to practice in the future. I was really pleased that they stated that it does NOT mean I’ve lost my qualification – I can still call myself a qualified nurse, I just can’t give the impression that I’m on the Register or that I’m currently practising, and I can’t put RN/RHV after my name any more (not that I ever did, apart from on patient/client notes where I had to). However, it was very vague about returning to practice, and gave the distinct impression that in order to get onto a return to practice course you had to have 5 years or more out of nursing practice. I wanted to do the course this time next year, when I will have been out of practice for 4 years, and was getting very wound up at the thought of having to delay it a year.

But, miracle of miracles, I phoned the NMC yesterday and, probably for the first time ever, actually got through to someone sensible. She told me about a provision which isn’t in the letter but which means that actually I may not need to do a return to practice course at all. The registration criteria are that you have to have worked at least 450 hours in the last 3 years (which I haven’t, hence coming off the register), BUT if you can show that you have worked at least 750 hours in the last 5 years then you can just pay a reregistration fee and get back on the register without doing a course. So, looking back from this time next year (if that doesn’t sound too Back to the Future!), the previous 4 years I will have been doing the PhD and therefore not practicing, apart from a random couple of weeks a couple of years ago, but the year before (ie year 1 of the previous 5 years) was my last full-time year in London, so I’ll more than meet the 750 hours criteria. This really made my day, as I was starting to get stressed out a. about having to do a course and b. about having to delay doing it and c. wondering who was going to fund me while I did it. I suspect I’ll still have to meet the PREP requirements (the continuing professional education stuff – which can be courses but not necessarily – you just have to demonstrate that you have done 35 hours of professional development to keep your practice updated), but that will be easy enough. I bet I could dig out some PhD-related stuff which could be relevant to nursing, and there are quite a few self-directed learning resources out there, by Nursing Times, Royal College of Nursing etc. So this means that, this time next year I can get myself back on the register and apply for nursing jobs again – I think ideally, if I’ve not quite finished writing up my thesis, I’d like to get a job for 3 days a week and spend the other 2 days finishing off the thesis. So that has made me feel much happier about the future, and taken off a lot of pressure (that I was putting myself under).

OK, not the most riveting blog entry, but I’m happy about it anyway! 🙂

That’s nearly it then …

This afternoon I sent off my form to the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) confirming that I am going to lapse my nurse registration as I haven’t done enough hours work in the last 3 years. All those years of training and then practice, and come the end of next week I won’t be able to do it any more. Not that I’ve done any of it at all for the last two years anyway, and only for a couple of weeks for the year before that, but it still feels really really weird that I can’t say “I am a nurse” or “I am a health visitor” any more. “I was a nurse” isn’t the same really. Being able to say “I am a ….” was a really important part of my sense of identity back in the day, I liked that when I said “I am a health visitor” people (in the UK at any rate) basically knew what I was talking about – “I am a PhD student” doesn’t have the same sense of identity about it, other than with other PhD students (and then tends to elicit a look of sympathy or raised eyebrows rather than the “ahaaa!!” of “I am a nurse”).

I tried to find out about return to practice courses, because once I finish the PhD I do want to go back into some sort of nursing practice. The English NHS number took me to a not-very-helpful call centre, but the woman at the Scottish number was much more helpful. I’ll see what the various blurb they’re sending me says – I need to think about when to apply for a course, given when my PhD money runs out and various other stuff.