In our latest Meet the Member feature, we are turning our focus on haematology nursing as we spoke with Bethan Ingram, an Advanced Nurse Practitioner at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. In November 2018 Bethan's work was recognised as she won the RCN Wales Advanced and Specialist Nursing Award at their Nurse of the Year Awards. Bethan told us about the project that helped win this prestigious award, as well as more about her career in nursing.
Can you tell us about the project that you implemented that led to you winning the Advanced and Specialist Nursing Award?
I was nominated for my work in developing a nurse-led haematology ambulatory chemotherapy and transplant service for patients being treated in Cardiff. I had seen this model of care work very well in other parts of the country and felt that our patients would really benefit from receiving their treatment in this more normalised way. It has allowed them to spend as much time at home as possible, with their families, rather than being admitted into an acute hospital bed to receive their elective treatments.
Why was involving patients in this project so important to its success?
Throughout the project we have tried to capture the patient voice to learn from their experience – this has been key. We have held workshops for patients and families, undertaken patient stories, really sought any opportunity to learn from their experience and refine our process. Our ambulatory model is very similar to what other haematology centres do but we have further developed it to reflect the needs of our patients within South East Wales.
Can you give any advice to those who wish to introduce a similar service at their institution?
It was critical for us to understand from a patient perspective what we did well and what we could do differently with an ambulatory model of care. The patient voice has had a great influence on the service but also on the broader team and bringing them on board with the project.
Secondly, the whole multi-professional team has been essential to make the project a success. Our dieticians, pharmacists and physiotherapists have contributed to the project alongside the medics and nurses. Each professional brings something new to the table to learn from and contribute to developing a rounded model of care.
Finally, use your local improvement teams. Having someone outside of the speciality to bounce ideas off and help facilitate patient and team events has been incredibly useful and offered different perspectives on what we wanted to achieve.
What led you to a career in haematology nursing?
I was rotated to haematology as a student nurse and found somewhere that I was supported and promoted the nursing role, challenged me and allowed me to think, and offered continuity of patient care – something that I personally find rewarding. I had brilliant role models to aspire to and over the years have worked with many supportive teams who have developed and educated me. Personally, I have always felt stimulated and challenged within the speciality. Within my career, I have become particularly interested in young adult care and haven’t looked back since!
Why is this role so important in the delivery of excellent patient care?
I think increasingly the haematology nursing role is adapting to meet the needs of the ever-growing services. We have taken on training and developed our clinical and leadership skills. We are pushing the boundaries of nursing but remaining true to our profession. I think the nursing workforce offers a continuity with skilled, expert and holistic patient care. This doesn’t just have benefits to our patients but also supports our teams to deliver excellent patient care.
Can you give 3 practical pieces of advice for haematology nurses in delivering excellent patient care?
- Learn from your patients and champion their voice
- Don’t be afraid to take the lead
- Introducing different ways of working does take effort and time, but the rewards are worth it. Engage the teams around you in your project or idea.
What are the rewards and challenges of the role?
The patients are the most rewarding. I feel privileged to support patients and families, especially through difficult times. It is particularly rewarding when you see patients who are now in remission and moving on with life – back at university, buying a house, just doing the things they want to do. I also really enjoy service improvement and there have been many opportunities for me to be involved in this within haematology. Finally, developing other staff - I have always been so fortunate to learn from other brilliant and inspiring colleagues. To positively contribute to someone else’s development is very rewarding.
This biggest challenge is when things do not work out as we would hope for some patients and families, which unfortunately is part of this role. Another challenge is defining and championing advanced practice roles – I think sadly they are still not widely understood.
What does BSH membership mean to you?
BSH has given me an opportunity to meet other similarly minded people, share ideas and network. I have enjoyed the mixture of professions and backgrounds; the collaboration. This has been particularly prevalent for me within the Teenage and Young Adult Specialist Interest Group. I am also very grateful for the educational opportunities and expertise that BSH provides.
BSH Annual Scientific Meeting 2019
We recognise the vital role nurses play in delivering haematology services, and with this in mind we have collaborated with leaders in the field to develop the specialist nursing session at our Annual Scientific Meeting. Join us in Glasgow for our Nursing Research session where our expert speakers will explore how nurses can impact on nursing practice and policy through research.
The session will take place on 2 April, 2019 between 13:30 - 15:00. Visit our conference website to see all other sessions taking place on 2 April.