Be Inspired Series
Emergency Nurse Practitioner
Antrim Area Hospital Minor Injuries Unit
What does your role involve?
I am an Emergency Nurse Practitioner (ENP) in Antrim Hospital’s emergency department Minor Injuries Unit. This involves assessing, diagnosing, treating and discharging patients with a range of minor injuries/illnesses.
Minor Injuries Units (MIU) offer treatment to anyone aged five and over with a minor
injury without the need for a referral or appointment and are run by fully qualified and trained Emergency Nurse Practitioners, experienced A&E nurses who have received additional training in dealing with a wide range of conditions.
As ENPs we treat minor injuries such as broken bones, burns and scalds or minor head injuries.
How did you get into the position in the first place?
I have worked in emergency care for approx 13 years. I started as a staff nurse in the Mater Hospital emergency department and then after two years transferred to the Royal.
While working at the Royal as a staff nurse I got the opportunity to do a four month secondment as an Emergency Nurse Practitioner ENP. I loved the job and knew that was what I wanted to continue to do. Luckily a post became available and four years ago I transferred to Antrim Area Hospital.
Did you always want to work in this sector in some capacity?
Even before I became a nurse, I knew the area I wanted to specialise in was emergency care. When I qualified there were very few jobs and I started off on a three week temporary contract in Plastic and Maxillo facial surgery in the Ulster hospital.
This was a brilliant opportunity for me to develop my staff nurse skills and was still there nearly three years later. However, I still wanted to do emergency care and eventually a permanent post became available in the Mater Hospital.
What training or previous experience do you have that has helped you in your current role?
I have my diploma in nursing and five years’ experience of working as an emergency nurse. I have also completed my Bsc Hons Specialist Practice in Emergency Care, a Minor Injuries Diploma from Caledonian University, a Diploma in Clinical Assessment also from Caledonian University, a minor injuries course by Celtic Consultancy, Post Grad Diploma Independent and Supplementary Prescribing and many other relevant short courses and in house training. I am continually studying and taking courses to enhance my skills and my scope of practice
What is your organisation's role in the local community?
As one of six ENPS in Antrim we offer a daily service to those with minor injuries. This means those who attend the emergency department with minor injuries do not wait in the same queue as those who are critically unwell. We also have medical staff, staff nurses and HCAs who work alongside us. It is a very effective and efficient service
And how does your role fit in as part of this?
The ENPs are key in this service running effectively. We are all experienced emergency nurses and are all very passionate about our jobs and the service we offer. We believe that the patient deserves an efficient service where they are treated by highly qualified staff.
What sort of personality and qualities do you need to do your job successfully?
There are many qualities needed and these include the ability to multitask, organisational skills, good documentation skills, remain calm under pressure and knowing your limitations and when to ask for help.
You need to have the ability to communicate with other people, as we treat a wide range of ages and conditions. In order to make the job a success it’s important to be enthusiastic and anyone working in emergency care needs a sense of humour
What are the biggest rewards of the job? And the biggest challenges?
The biggest reward is very simple - it’s when a patient says ‘thank you’. You know then that you have made a difference to somebody and left them with a favourable experience.
The biggest challenge is the sheer volume of work. Every year we get busier and sometimes it is hard not to feel overwhelmed. We are a very close team though and there is always someone there to support you.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
One of my minor injuries tutors, Grant Williams said: ‘If it feels wrong, it probably is wrong.’ I try to stick to that and if the pieces of the puzzle when trying to diagnose don’t fit together, I always ask for help.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to do the same job?
It is a very busy, stressful job, but it is a great job. You get the chance to make a difference to waiting times, it is rewarding when you successfully diagnose and treat someone and it is never boring.
What do you enjoy doing outside work?
I enjoy the gym and reading. I have a 15-month-old daughter so love spending time with her, feeding ducks, going for walks and all the other fun things involved in being a mummy.