ANP Education and Support
Dr Su McCole
Salaried GP and Area Clinical Director
Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust
A senior nurse and two doctors within Sussex Community Foundation Trust identified the need to support and develop the Advanced Nurse Practitioners who joined the inpatient Multi-Disciplinary Team several years ago.
They explored the needs of this new and valuable group of clinicians and recognised the potential to better support and develop them.
They organised equipment, a support forum, and a programme of educational updates which have been positively received.
They continue to champion on their behalf, and to strive to improve the working experience and wellbeing of this group, confident this will have a positive impact on the wider Multi-Disciplinary Team in which they work, and on the patients for whom they provide excellent care.
4 years ago, Sussex Community Foundation Trust decided to introduce the Advanced Nurse Practitioner role to our community hospital inpatient wards. We have 111 beds across 5 wards in 4 units spread throughout West Sussex.
We were struggling to recruit enough doctors for the levels of medical need of the patients, and initially thought the ANPs could do some of the workload – they were a way of bridging a supply-demand gap.
We totally underestimated their skills and soon realised they bring to the medical team much more than simply completing clinical tasks. Their holistic approach, broad experience and skills, advanced care planning experience and clinical maturity and attitude adds huge value to the medical care we provide and has positively altered the views and approaches of some of the ward doctors. As a new role, however, there was little formal support in place within the Trust’s existing structures.
In late 2019, Lucy Scragg (Professional Head of Nursing and Education) set up a forum where ANPs could discuss their professional needs and concerns with a senior nurse with the influence to support solving professional issues. With the introduction of the HEE Advanced Clinical Practice Multi Professional framework it was clear that the potential of the advanced Nurse Practitioner workforce wasn’t being fully explored and we quickly recognised that there were gaps in terms of education, professional development, job planning, leadership and being more engaged with service development.
During COVID we quickly ensured that the ANP’s had mobile devices to access digital team meetings to reduce travel, making attendance easier whilst managing a very busy caseload. The forum has created a space to talk through issues, opportunities, share learning, the feedback has been positive in terms of support and Lucy continues to champion on their behalf. The next steps include introducing an Advanced Clinical Practice policy to support those in post so it’s much clearer what is expected and in order to support and develop one of our most senior clinical nurse workforces at SCFT and ensure that care delivery is safe, effective and responsive so patient have positive care outcomes. to further improve their working life.
Dr David Orley and Dr Su McCole surveyed their educational needs, along with those of the ward doctors, and identified there were areas of clinical medicine which they’d value being updated on and having further discussion about. The issue arose that their geographical distribution (and the presence of Covid restrictions) and unpredictable clinical demands on the ward would make the regular attendance at face-to-face training sessions impossible. They therefore developed a programme of update videos, handouts and slides which could be accessed via the Trust website and watched/read at a time convenient to them. These would bolster their knowledge and confidence. Su also hosts monthly live Teams meetings to discuss relevant clinical cases and care (videoed for those who cannot attend). These also offer additional peer contact and support, and build a team spirit across the doctors and ANPs region. This information is being uploaded to the intranet and is building into a library of resources for any future trainees or colleagues who wish to view it.
Feedback has been gathered and is positive so the ANP forum and education programme will continue. The ANP forum brings peers together to share experiences and concerns, and can be accessed via mobile devices or in person.
The education resources are available to all and are in written and video forms to support those who learn in different ways.
They can be replayed at a louder volume and the documents can be read ‘zoomed in’ supporting those with audiovisual impairment.
Meeting, or joining via Teams, is helping the staff to get to know those working in other units and improving inclusivity. We encourage everyone to contribute and encourage one another.
For further information contact: [email protected]