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CYP children

Lucinda Armstrong

Name: Grace Edge

Job title: Head of Children's Nursing

Speciality: Acute and community paediatrics and neonataology

Organisation: Northern Health and Social Care Trust

What is your current role?

I am currently the Head of Children's Nursing within the NHSCT.

What was your route to this role?

I commenced my nursing career in 1988 by undertaking a 4 year combined RGN/RSCN qualification in what was then the Royal Group of Hospitals. Once I qualified in 1992 I worked within acute paediatrics as a Grade D staff nurse in RBHSC for 1 year before moving to England to take up a Grade E staff nurse post within orthopedics, plastic surgery and spinal injuries. Whilst working in England I was successfully appointed to a Grade F ward sister in 1994 and then promoted to a Grade G ward manager in 1996. I moved back to Northern Ireland in 2001 and worked as a Grade E staff nurse in paediatric orthopedics.

In 2003 I was then appointed as a Grade G Senior Nurse Practitioner within community children's nursing in Homefirst Community Trust. In 2007 under the review of public administration I was appointed as a Band 8a Paediatric Lead Nurse for the NHSCT. I acted up into a Band 8B Head of Children's Nursing within the NHSCT for a 6 month period in 2015 before being permanently promoted to my current role in September 2016.

What prompted you to do this role?

From a young age I was always interested in working with children. When I was still studying a school/college I undertook a number of volunteer roles within local community that related to children (Girl Guiding, hospital volunteer, church summer schemes). I have always sought to develop and seek alternative positions within paediatric nursing to enrich my nursing experiences and further my career.

What education/courses/modules have you undertaken to equip you for the role?

  • Combined training re Registered General Nurse and Registered Sick Children's Nurse
  • ENB qualifications in teaching and assessing in practice, orthopaedic nursing and research & development 
  • Diploma in Nursing (Staffordshire University)
  • BSc (Hons) Community and Public Health Nursing 
  • Post Graduate Diploma Health and Social Care management 
  • RCN Leadership programme 

How do you see yourself developing your skills?

Every day is a learning day! I am currently enrolled on the HSC Leadership Centre Aspire programme. This is a programme for Senior Managers across the Health and Social Care System that helps to builds on existing leadership skills.  It challenges participants to think about their personal resilience for change and what it takes to make confident decisions and engage effectively within and across organisational boundaries.

I also currently sit on the WellChild advisory panel as the Northern Ireland representative. 

What is your long-term career plan?

To continue to develop and promote acute and community paediatric nursing and neonatology both regionally and nationally.

What advice would you give someone thinking about moving to work in your area of practice?

As long as you are passionate about working with children and their families then a career in children's nursing is for you. Whilst Children's Nursing can be challenging and varied it is a hugely rewarding career pathway. There are a number of career opportunities available within paediatrics and neonatology e.g. advanced practice, service development, clinical education, governance, management of chronic long term conditions and complex health.

What do you most enjoy about this area of care?

No two days are the same!

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Children and young people: career stories and case studies