In 2000, 6 years after qualifying as a children’s nurse, I joined the exciting field of paediatric endocrinology at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London. This new venture led me to work with some of London’s – if not the world’s – leading experts over the next 15 years.
I also gained experience at the Royal London Hospital, University College London Hospital, King’s College Hospital and, finally, Great Ormond Street Hospital. I gained an interest in growth and puberty disorders, adrenal disorders, neuroendocrine late effects of childhood brain tumours, and also disorders of sex development.
During this time, I worked with a group of paediatric nurses to develop the Royal College of Nursing Competencies: an Integrated Career and Competency Framework for Children’s Endocrine Nurse Specialists.1 This followed the introduction of the Agenda for Change, when more nurses were having to justify their roles to managerial structures. It proved a success when it was launched in 2008, and the adult endocrine nurses followed on swiftly with their Competency Framework for Adult Endocrine Nursing in 2013 and then 2015,2 in which I was lucky to also be involved.
THE MOVE TO EDUCATION
In September 2015, I made the huge decision to move from clinical practice into higher education for children’s nurses. I had always enjoyed the teaching and presenting part of my role. This ranged from teaching patients and their families to teaching ward staff, and included involvement at national and international conferences. These spanned British Society for Paediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes (BSPED) meetings, Society for Endocrinology BES conferences and Endocrine Nurse Updates, ENDO meetings and the Pediatric Endocrinology Nursing Society (PENS) conferences.
I thought that these experiences would serve me well, but I was not prepared for the huge learning curve I was about to encounter. It is one thing presenting to a large international conference, full of people interested in your expert opinion and knowledge – it is very different trying to teach first year undergraduate student nurses, many of whom were not born when I first qualified!
I found myself joining the teaching and marking teams for the modules ‘Communicating with children and young people’, ‘Public health’ and ‘Health promotion’, amongst others. Eventually, word spread around the department regarding my clinical expertise. I was then involved in teaching third year pre-registration nurses about steroids and insulin, helping design questions on reproduction and the stress response for the first year anatomy and physiology exams, and teaching growth and pubertal assessment for the post-registration ‘Advanced assessment’ module. Finally, the arrangements became more settled and I ran the PGDip ‘Anatomy and physiology’ module, and the ‘Applied clinical physiology’ post-registration module, as part of the MSc/PGDip Children’s Advanced Nurse Practitioner pathway, of which I am also now Course Director.
It all sounds removed from my clinical days, but teaching the clinical side of things to students ensures I read up on the subject, and present best clinical practice with up to date recent research.
I am now involved in teaching many post-registration modules, including ‘Mental health in children and young people’, exploring clinical issues in paediatric endocrinology which can affect mental health. These include poor growth or early/delayed puberty, which can lead to bullying, and the impact of new diagnoses and learning coping mechanisms.
Other modules include ‘Children’s and young people’s cancer’, where I discuss long term endocrine late effects, and also ‘Children’s neuroscience’, where I teach about pituitary tumours and, of course, diabetes insipidus.
Sinead Bryan and Kate Davies at the 2017 BSPED meeting in Newcastle.
The most relevant post-registration module that I now lead is the BSc/ MSc level module ‘Principles of care of the child and young person in endocrinology’, which has now had two successful intakes, and will next run in January 2020. It involves 6 intensive study days, where students are taught by clinical experts from across the UK on all topics in paediatric endocrinology. The BSPED has supported student attendance. Assessment is formative and summative. Summative assessment relates to the final mark, and the students have to give a case study presentation, which has resulted in some fascinating discussions on congenital hyperinsulinaemia, early puberty, disorders of sex development and growth hormone deficiency, amongst many others. The formative assessment is more of a group work exercise, where students worked in pairs on given scenarios, discussing the indications for growth hormone therapy and the arguments for various growth hormone delivery devices, the results of which were presented in poster format at the 2017 BSPED meeting in Newcastle and Gateshead.
REFLECTING ON THE TRANSITION
The transition into academia has not been easy. I have had to study for my Postgraduate Certificate in Practice Education, and am now on the Nursing and Midwifery Council Register as a Nurse Teacher, so I am more au fait with curriculum planning and design. I also completed my Children’s Advanced Nurse Practitioner Postgraduate Diploma, squeezing in those last few required practice placement hours when I could.
The marking season can be heavy, with a multitude of essays (I once had 80 to get done in 2 weeks), case study presentations, OSCEs (objective structured clinical exams) and exams to mark. However, we, as the team, always make time for ‘reflection’ at the end of marking season!
My role has now taken me into the Non-Medical Prescribing team at London South Bank University, to be the Cohort Lead for the country’s only paediatric Non-Medical Prescribing course – please do contact me if you’re interested (email firstname.lastname@example.org). I do miss my clinical days sometimes, but if anyone is thinking of making this giant leap from the clinics to the classroom, I can wholly recommend it. I still think of myself as an endocrine nurse, but now as a teacher too!
Kate Davies, Senior Lecturer in Children’s Nursing/Non-Medical Prescribing, Children’s Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Department of Advanced and Integrated Care, London South Bank University
- Royal College of Nursing 2013 Competencies: an Integrated Career and Competency Framework for Children’s Endocrine Nurse Specialists. www.rcn.org.uk/professionaldevelopment/publications/pub-003264.
- Kieffer V et al. 2015 Endocrine Connections 4 W1–W17