Clinical Eye: Personal development is an investment

Time spent on your own development is necessary investment, says Ishbel Straker.

It’s that time of year again, when we are appraised and more importantly have the opportunity to appraise ourselves. This is a rare moment in our nursing life, but one which is incredibly valuable. We are given the space to consider how the previous 12 months have gone and how you would like things to pan out over the following 12 months for the benefit of your learning capacity and for client care.

This is a time when we can look at how best we, as individuals can empower ourselves to be the best we can be for those in our clinical spheres. I spend a lot of time thinking about this for the nurses under my care, planning out training and CPD sessions over the 12-month trajectory, considering trends within the addiction field and how we can equip the nurses to best manage them.

It is easy to look at this for others, but if you asked me the last time I considered my learning needs I would be searching for the answer. Why is that? Well, I would suggest it is because we as nurses are a selfless race of professionals. Now don’t get me wrong when I say this, we absolutely have our faults and I could spend days listing them for you but I’m sure you have your own list to look at! I mean selfless because that is what we are conditioned to be throughout our training – to think of our patients before ourselves, to feed our patients before ourselves, to hydrate our patients before ourselves, to toilet our patients before ourselves.

Now this is all well and good. However, there are negative implications to this in the form of our own self-worth and development. We need to reflect on our abilities, the changing demographics and our competency levels within this. We cannot continue to ride on the wave of ‘how we have always done things’, but instead become focused on innovation – which means, as difficult as it may feel, looking inwardly at our own learning potential.

I appreciate that there are financial and time constraints within services, but this year, at appraisal, be prepared with your own ideas and personal development plan. Be what you may feel is a little selfish, because I promise, in the bigger picture, the client is still at the centre.

Ishbel Straker is a clinical director, registered mental health nurse, independent nurse prescriber and board member of IntANSA

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