“It’s really rewarding because I can do lots of extra tasks for patients that I couldn’t do before,” says Sally Conlan. “Things are lot more slick on the wards, so patients benefit and so do staff.”
Sally, 32, is describing her role as an Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANP) at Barnsley Hospital. She is one of four ANPs in the medical division, covering emergency admissions to the hospital via the accident and emergency department or GP referral.
“We are nurses but a lot of the tasks we perform are traditionally what junior doctors have always done,” explains Sally, who trained and qualified as a nurse in Barnsley.
Filling the gap
The role of the ANP has been introduced in the NHS in part to meet European rules on junior doctors’ working hours – they are only allowed to work so many. ANPs fill the gap, providing a highly skilled supporting role to senior medical and nursing teams.
At the same time, the introduction of the ANP enables nurses to take a new direction in their profession, learning new skills and advancing their careers.
Sally originally embarked on a career in banking but became a nurse after stints as an auxiliary. She worked in Barnsley’s medical admissions unit (MAU) and as a night sister in medicine before going ‘back to school’ to study and train to become an ANP.
“It’s a really exciting time for nursing because the ANP is still quite a new role and it makes you think what more can nurses do – what’s the future holding and what will nursing look like in 10 years time?”
Scott Warren, 31, is one of Sally’s ANP colleagues. He too trained at Barnsley and previously worked on the MAU as a charge nurse. Both Scott and Sally are following an intensive academic and practical training programme, working towards a masters degree in advanced professional practice.
Barnsley Hospital, the Northern General in Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University are all key players in the training of ANPs.
Scott and Sally have already qualified in the core elements of being an ANP which allows them, among many other things, to:
- carry out physical examinations and diagnosis of patients
- prescribe medicines
- request and interpret xrays
- monitor the progression of a patient’s illness and amend treatments as necessary
- act as first point of contact for patients who are acutely unwell and/or medical emergencies on the wards outside of working hours
- make referrals to other specialities/community agencies
- provide support and teaching for nursing teams.
As ANPs, Scott, Sally and their colleagues, David Wilcock and Jan Meggitt, cover the MAU and a dozen medical wards, working both day and night shifts
Scott says: “Being an ANP means there are more people on the shop floor to treat patients, which helps improve the patient experience as well as patient safety.
“It’s a very challenging job but ultimately very satisfying – I’m now able to make decisions and provide treatments that I couldn’t in my previous role.
“And we’ve been well received – the doctors and nursing staff seem to like having us around!”