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Health SciencesPostgraduate study

Colm Darby MSc Advanced Clinical Practice (Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner; Advanced Neonatal Practitioner)

Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner: Southern Health and Social Care Trust, Northern Ireland

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Hi, I'm Colm and I'm studying the MSc Advanced Clinical Practice (Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner; Advanced Neonatal Practitioner) at the University of Southampton.

This programme develops you into a practitioner who has the ability to practice and think at an advanced level. The course journey is of self-discovery and personal enhancement.

What made you choose the MSc Advanced Clinical Practice (Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner) programme at Southampton?

On deciding the next stage of my nursing career progression it was clear that if I wanted to be the best I could be then I need to be trained by the best. The University of Southampton has an amazing reputation for training very skilled and competent Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioners.

What has it been like to study with Southampton so far?

My experience of studying at Southampton has been life changing. When faced with challenges of studying and completing the course you form a support network of amazing friends who are experiencing it with you. The Advanced Clinical Practice course is taught by lecturers' with a vast wealth of knowledge, experience and passion for their job. Their passion is contagious and engages your interest to ‘want to learn’. The empathy and understanding of the course co-ordinator, Susan Smith, creates an atmosphere of family life - you feel comfortable in expressing feelings when times are hard and rejoicing when achievements have been made.

Can you highlight any modules that you have found especially beneficial to your practice?

On commencing the Advanced Clinical Practice programme I identified that my academic ability was a self discovered limitation. It was challenging from an academic view but through support from the lecturers and Susan I was able to enhance my learning styles and ability to apply learnt knowledge into clinical practice. The Advanced Practice module enhanced my understanding of the personal and professional requirements for the ANNP role. The portfolio assessment led me through a journey of self-reflection and discovery. At times when I felt that I was struggling with the course demands, I was able to pull upon the positive progressions that I had displayed throughout the course. These are skills that I have taken forward into my clinical role as an ANNP and use as a valued resource to improve practice and review decisions.

Is there anything special about the programme you would wish to highlight?

Neonatal programme Lead, Susan Smith is the mother of all great Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioners. Her nurturing of students creates an environment that allows openness, empathy and a sense of belonging to something great. I often referred to Susan as the mummy bird who was feeding us all to grow in order to get strong, fly off and start our own journey. She empowered us with knowledge and skills and supported our growth into ANNPs so we can nurture those vulnerable infants, parents and staff.

What have you enjoyed most about your course?

The sense of community and family while on the Advanced Clinical Practice programme is the best tool to success. Peer to peer support is instrumental in supporting your learning and experience. The friends I have made through the course are friends for life.

Would you recommend the programme to anyone considering studying MSc Advanced Clinical Practice at Southampton? What advice might you give them?

Anyone considering the role of Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner would be wise to choose Southampton University as the programme to choose. The programme is develops you into a practitioner who has the ability to practice and think at an advanced level. The journey along the programme is of self-discovery and personal enhancement. Reflection is the foundation to achieving advanced level thinking- I would advise nurses to self-reflection on their practice and discover a reflective tool that works best for them as an individual before commencing the programme.

You recently won the ‘UK Neonatal Nurse of the Year’ 2017 - could you tell us a little about this, how you became involved, and how you feel about winning?

I am very honoured and humbled to be awarded with the UK Neonatal Nurse of the Year 2017. I was nominated by a midwife for the success of implementing a change of practice to the neonatal hypoglycaemia management within Southern Health and Social Care Trust, Northern Ireland . I developed and trained midwives and nurses with the trust hospitals on the guideline, created education packs and parent information on the use of Glucose Gel to treat transient hypoglycaemia in neonates. The review of the evidence base for the intervention was carried out as part of my dissertation on the MSc programme. On implementation of the new guideline and management strategy the Trust has seen a decrease in term admissions for hypoglycaemia, improve breastfeeding rates and improve hospital stay experience as stated by breastfeeding mothers. With breastfeeding rates in Northern Ireland as the lowest in the UK, a cultural change had to occur. Quality improvement and service development are key areas within my role as an ANNP.

How would you sum up your time at Southampton?

My time at Southampton is of great fondness and personal growth. My understanding of who I am and who I will become as I progress through my career as an Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner has been the result of experiencing and completing the Advanced Clinical Practice programme in Southampton.


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