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How I use what I learn in my course during my work as a charge nurse

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Written by Adeola O.

MSc Public Health student Adeola reflects on the challenges facing healthcare services today and how she applies her learning to her role.

Coastline image at sunset

As a first year distance learning student studying MSc in Public Health: Health Service Management Streamline with the University of London, people have asked me: how is it studying this course? Is it hard? What does it entail?  How do you find the time to work and study? What can you do with this course after you finish the programme?

I had considered these questions before starting the course and reflected on this in relation to my current role. I am a charge nurse qualified in Mental Health nursing, working in an acute inpatient setting in the National Health Service (NHS), England. This course relates to my everyday life and that of society. When we talk about health, what does this mean to you and I? What factors define our health? What difference can we make to those we have a responsibility to care for, as well as ourselves?

The content of this course broadens your knowledge and gives you the skills and understanding you need to make a difference, on both a small and large scale. For instance, in a multicultural society such as the UK, it is vital to understand the differences in perspectives and how people make decisions about their own health. 

Understanding health through different people’s perspectives, considering experiences, socio-economic factors and cultural views can impact the way that health services are distributed. There are several challenges currently facing the NHS and this impacts staff, patients, the public and other invested stakeholders. Health is both complex and dynamic, and there is no straight answer. However, several pieces of research over the years have highlighted an overview of ways forward.

According to the World Health Organisation (2023), the definition of health is: the complete state of physical, mental and social wellbeing and not only the absence of disease. Health means having a sense of fulfilled happiness and contentment each day, rather than just focusing on the physical state of being absent of ill-health. 

Some of the ways I have a sense of fulfilled happiness and contentment are:

  • Connecting socially with friends and family
  • Writing in my journal
  • Doing a workout or participating in a gym class
  • Travelling
  • Reading a novel
  • Hydrating well
  • Stretching
  • Having quality breaks at work
  • Playing brain teasers such as word puzzles or question and answer games
  • Learning a new skill such as cooking
  • Self-care, such as massages
Student posing for a picture inside a cathedral style building

When working in a dynamic environment such as healthcare, it is vital to understand the processes and skills required to adapt to any unforeseeable future changes. As a leader and manager in an acute inpatient setting, understanding the team’s wellbeing at work is essential in providing a safe environment for patients. Staff health at work, according to NHS England (2022), is related to having breaks, feeling fulfilled, having a relationship with their team, a good work-life balance, valuing diversity, having a visible and approachable leader and feeling empowered.

Health care services in the UK face a multitude of challenges. The Health Foundation (2023) identified several challenges facing the NHS, including: health inequalities and risk factors; widening unmet need from the NHS and social services; high cost; shortage of staff due to increased burn-out; increased life expectancy of people with major long-term conditions; and low satisfaction from the public using the NHS.

There are several frameworks used in different NHS Trusts with the aim of improving the quality of service within the locality, organisation and service plans. An example of this approach is the Greater Manchester Quality Improvement Framework which produced an innovative and unique framework to drive transformation of existing services. There is no single best approach to quality improvement, but similar approaches include: engagement of teams and service users (also known in some settings as patients), leadership, clear direction and continuous efforts to improve i.e., the use of clinical audits (NHS England, 2023).

The King’s Fund (2023) have reported a decline in patient satisfaction across the NHS and have argued that this should be a key priority as it aids the efficiency and effectiveness of services across all health boards. If patients are not listened to and don’t feel involved in their care, there is strong corelation of risk to the patient's safety. The Kings Fund worked closely with the Heads of Patient Experience in making the patients’ voices heard in their Trust board meeting. They were also told that they needed to hear more positive stories in the future. 

To my fellow readers, having your course content fit into your daily life can help you reflect on what this means for you, both now and how it will fit into your future. My studies, along with new and current research helps me to better understand my field of work and continuously improve my ability to apply my learnings to the real world. 

Adeola studies MSc Public Health: Health Services Management in England. 

References

NHS England (2022) Creating a health and well-being culture: elements of health and well-being. Available at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/NHS-health-and-wellbeing-framework-elements-of-health-and-wellbeing.pdf  (Accessed 14th November 2023)

NHS England (2023) Greater Manchester Quality Improvement Framework. Available at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/north-west/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/03/Quality-Improvement-Framework.pdf  (Accessed 13th November 2023)

The King’s Fund (2023) Patient experience. Available at: https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/topics/patient-experience (Accessed 12th November 2023)

The Health Foundation (2023) Nine major challenges facing health and care in England. Available at: https://www.health.org.uk/publications/long-reads/nine-major-challenges-facing-health-and-care-in-england?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIpuqQgOHJggMV8JCDBx03wgoDEAAYBCAAEgLWv_D_BwE (Accessed 15th November 2023) 

World Health Organization (2023) Constitution. Available at: https://www.who.int/about/accountability/governance/constitution  (Accessed 15th November 2023)