Name: Pooja Shah
Job title: Health Visitor
Speciality: Health visiting
Organisation: Whittington Health
What is your current role?
I am currently working as a health visitor. Health visitors are trained nurses and/or midwives with an additional specialist community public health nursing qualification. The additional training enables health visitors to holistically assess the health needs of individuals, families and the wider community to promote good health and prevent illness.
Health visitors work with parents and their new babies offering support and informed advice from the antenatal period until the child is five years of age to ensure that all children get the best possible start in life. In addition, health visitors also work in partnership with multidisciplinary and multi agency teams to support the wellbeing of the children and their families.
What was your route to this role?
- Year 2009: I worked as an temporary agency worker- health care assistant for the health visiting team for approximately 6 months before successfully obtaining a permanent post to be a health care assistant.
- Year 2011: I was promoted to a locality administrative supervisor for the health visiting and school nursing teams.
- Year 2012- 2014: I obtained a sponsorship from the Whittington Health to study the postgraduate diploma in children’s nursing at King’s College London which consisted of theory and practical placements. (2 year accelerated fast track programme due to me holding an undergraduate degree previously in Management studies).
- Year 2014-2015: I obtained a sponsorship from Whittington Health to study the postgraduate diploma in specialist community public health nursing- health visiting at King’s College London which consisted of theory and a practical placement.
- Year 2015- Present: I am working as a health visitor.
What prompted you to do this role?
I have always had an interest in health promotion and prevention. Previously when I was supporting the health visiting team as a health care assistant/ administrator; I was able to advise according to my remit when I aided to run the child health clinics. This made me feel empowered and wanted to develop myself further. In addition, I observed the role of health visitors and this made me more determined that I wanted to become a health visitor so that I am able to make a difference to the children and their families.
What education/courses/modules have you undertaken to equip you for the role?
I am a community V100 nurse prescriber. This course was a module taken as part of the specialist community public health nursing programme. In addition, I am a mentor for pre-registration nursing students and this was an additional module taken at the Middlesex university whilst working as a health visitor.
It is pertinent for health visitors to be up to date with national and local policies, priorities and evidence-based information to maintain and develop skills and competencies. Therefore, alongside with additional reading from evidence-based sources and keeping up to date with training; I also have had a variety of training in immunisations, perinatal mental health, breastfeeding, managing minor ailments, new born blood spot screening, record keeping, etc.
How do you see yourself developing your skills?
As an autonomous health visitor, I find my skills are always developing. Such as building rapport and maintaining relationships with a diverse caseload of children and their families. It is also important to be able to challenge professionals and families appropriately, which may lead to reporting/escalating if something is of concern, such as inappropriate child rearing practice or inappropriate behaviors for example.
What is your long-term career plan?
I have recently been promoted to a team lead for a health visiting team. I want to work with the team to create systems in the workplace to increase efficiency and increase staff morale further which is likely to lead to even better patient care. I also want to be able to influence local and national health visiting policies and envision myself being in a leadership role in the long term future.
What advice would you give someone thinking about moving to work in your area of practice?
The role of the health visitor is widely varied and most importantly rewarding for the health and wellbeing of children and their families. It is important to understand the key national and local priorities, be well organised and flexible to meet the changing demands of the service needs.
The role includes public health promotion, leadership, supporting changes through empowerment and acting as a communicator between many agencies involved in working with families who have children under five years. This is a perfect opportunity for someone who enjoys to be active and wants to develop themselves as a practitioner.
What do you most enjoy about this area of care?
I enjoy being a dynamic health visitor and working with other professionals, children and their families to make a positive difference through early identification, intervention and prevention. In addition, I am also passionate about learning, teaching preregistration nursing students and developing colleagues further so care to patients is provided at the highest quality.