I’m a registered nurse who qualified in Australia and although I’ve worked in pain management for the last 20 years, prior to this I worked in the operating theatre. This is my second term as Chair of the RCN Pain and Palliative Care Forum. I put myself forward to join the Forum as it had been latent for a few years and required resurrecting.
Although the application process to join the forum’s steering committee was quite straightforward I recall the interview as though it was yesterday. I had gone prepared with a folder of my recent publications and project work. The one question I recall was to describe a change of practice that I had led on. I cited my experience of diagnosing an epidural haematoma in a patient who had an attempted insertion of an epidural but because it was unsuccessful no motor or sensory observations were undertaken. My experience led to a change of practice nationwide and increased recognition of the need to undertake observations.
Sitting on an RCN forum steering committee is a great opportunity to recognise gaps in practice or education across the UK and to do something about it. Our forums need committee members who work in diverse areas of clinical practice, education and research, and who have wide experience and interests. I’m Chair of the RCN Pain and Palliative Care Forum and – to give you an idea of the range required – we need to ensure that we cover acute pain, chronic pain, symptom control, palliative care, advanced care planning and end of life care.
We’re regularly asked to contribute to national projects and represent nursing across these areas. For instance, I am a co-opted member of the Council of the British Pain Society (representing the RCN) and this year I’ve contributed to work led by NICE, MHRA, Royal College of Anaesthetists, the Faculty of Pain Medicine and the Royal Society of Medicine, to name a few. I also delegate other forum members to represent the RCN on external work, such as the Chronic Pain Policy Coalition.
As a Chair I have certain responsibilities, such as recruitment of new members, leading and overseeing projects, ensuring that work streams are completed in time and on cost, and providing educational opportunities for the nursing workforce. In the last eight years we have produced a pain knowledge and skills framework for the nursing team, co-authored national guidance on pain assessment and management in older people, developed EasyRead information on pain, mouth care guidance, one film (Bounce Back Boy), getting it right first time and countless RCN Congress fringe events. We also have a Facebook page and Twitter account.
I report to Amanda Cheesley who is the professional lead for long term conditions (LTC) and have developed close ties with the other LTC Chairs. I’m also the Deputy Chair of Forum Chairs, the chair being Jason Warriner, and together we host a new steering committee and Chairs’ day early each new year. My secondary role is the social secretary for a number of forums at Congress. This is the only time of the year when nurses have conversations that would happen for no other reason. A brief conversation on the final day has evolved into writing a bid to develop a valid and pain assessment tool for people with a learning disability.
Late 2019 and 2020 are looking very busy indeed. The Forum is leading and contributing to a number of educational events (internal and external), projects and publications.
Why put yourself forward?
Applying for a place on a steering committee offers you the chance to develop personally and professionally. You can change practice; influence care, delivery and commissioning; and you can raise the profile of the profession and your specialty. The RCN is an internationally renowned organisation and what better way to improve the care we deliver to patients than to get involved in leading an RCN Forum.
How to applyApplications for vacancies on 34 of the RCN’s forum steering committees close on Friday 26 July. Read more and apply.