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International Nurses Day 2023: Nurse masters her clinical skills to advance career

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Published on 12 May 2023

Kerry Kirby
Kerry Kirby

After 17 years of working at the sharp end of NHS acute medicine, nurse Kerry Kirby knew it was time to push her skills forward into a leadership role within her department.

Last year, she joined the three-year University of Sunderland’s Advanced Clinical Practitioner Master’s programme, juggling full-time work, with study and family life. But the decision is paying off for the hard-working nurse at Gateshead’s Queen Elizabeth (QE) Hospital, as the research and leadership skills she’s developing have already been put into practice as part of a hospital department project, to be showcased at an international conference next week.

Kerry, working as part of a multi-disciplinary team, looked at ways to improve the management of iron deficiency anaemia in patients, ensuring they get the best care through improved pathways, new local guidelines, treatment and patient information resources, all of which has resulted in better patient outcomes, cost reductions, better use of staff time and fewer hospital attendances for patients.

A poster presentation, showcasing the project will be unveiled to a global audience at the International forum for quality and safety in healthcare in Copenhagen.

Kerry, 42, originally from Washington, says: “The project has been a real test of the skills I’ve been developing during my course, but has really helped in terms of the research, education, and leadership side. It’s given me the confidence to progress my skills further, and I’m delighted our team effort will be recognised at the conference in Copenhagen.”

She added: “This is the first time I’ve studied at Master’s level and it’s been really challenging but I’ve had good support, and there has been lots of opportunity for on-the-job learning. The programme is something I can work into my everyday role in Same Day Emergency Care (SDEC).”

SDEC is the provision of same day care for emergency patients who would otherwise be admitted to hospital. Under this care model, patients presenting at hospital with relevant conditions can be rapidly assessed, diagnosed and treated without being admitted to a ward, and if clinically safe to do so, will go home the same day their care is provided.

Today, on International Nurses Day 2023, we are shining a spotlight on the work of our student nurses at Sunderland. The day also offers a chance to recognise the outstanding efforts that nurses make in delivering high-quality, safe-patient care - never more so that during the last few years of the pandemic.

Kerry, a mum of two, began her career at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust’s Emergency Assessment Unit and Short Stay unit. She started as a staff nurse in the emergency assessment unit and short stay unit moving on to deputy sister and ward manager, before deciding to become a Nurse Practitioner. The opportunity to study the MSc Advanced Clinical Practitioner, a higher-level clinical apprenticeship programme then became available in 2022, and she took the plunge.

Advanced practitioners provide clinical leadership and enable collaboration across the multi-disciplinary team through complex decision making and managing risk.

As we celebrate International Nurses Day 2023, Kerry highlights the rewarding side of her profession: “I’ve always worked at the QE and in the acute medicine. This is such a rewarding job and I get to help patients every day. My job is so varied, and I wanted to move to the next level through the Advanced Clinical Practitioner role.

“I already feel I’m making a difference to the department, which I hope I can help expand in the future and get involved in the training of more junior apprentices.”

Victoria Duffy, Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader for MSc Advanced Clinical Practice, said: “Kerry is demonstrating a patient centric application of the four pillars of advanced practice (Clinical Practice, Leadership and Management, Education and Research) and is making impactful changes at trust level which is hugely beneficial for patient care. 

“We are very proud to be a small part in her Advanced Clinical Practice journey.” 

To find out more about our undergraduate and postgraduate nursing degrees, explore our facilities and chat to our current students and lecturers at the University of Sunderland, join our Nursing Open Day on Saturday, June 10.