Emma Selby, a Mental Health Nurse at North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT), won the Rising Star Award at the 2014 Nursing Times Awards, which is co-sponsored by NHS Professionals, NHS England and The Florence Nightingale Foundation. We spoke to Emma, who has been a nurse for two years, to find out more about the great work she has been doing at her Trust and what her plans for the future are.
How did it feel to win the Rising Star Award?
Amazing – I’m still in a state of shock! The competition was so stiff I honestly didn’t think I’d win. I was so surprised and over the moon.
Have you always worked at NELFT?
Yes, I was a student there for a year before getting my newly qualified post working on at Brookside CAMHS inpatient unit and I now work in the community.
Could you tell me a little bit about your work at NELFT and why you were nominated?
I work for the child and adolescent section in the health services at North East London NHS Foundation Trust. I was nominated by my patients for some of the initiative I implemented when working in Team Fusion – which works with young people using substances.
The initiatives I implemented were very patient centred; the patients said there weren’t any maternity pathways for teenagers who become pregnant while using substances, so we developed a pathway for them to ensure their pregnancies and labours were as smooth as possible. Young people also asked for sexual health screenings to be available at the clinic. They would go somewhere for mental health needs but wanted other needs met there as well. Due to the money we needed for training we set up an alliance with the Terrence Higgins Trust who agreed to train us and provide us with free equipment as we were doing it in their name.
Describe your typical day?
I am now a community psychiatric nurse in a triage team in Waltham Forest Child and Family Consultation Service. Young people are referred to the Trust through GPs and other health services and I’m responsible for assessing them, judging how urgently they need to be seen and what pathway they need to be moved on to.
Are there any particular challenges to your job?
Working with teenagers is a love / hate relationship at times. We get to be very creative and I love that side of it, but it can also be very challenging. Sometimes they don’t want to see us or engage in the services we offer. The biggest problem at the moment is that there is no money in social care and a general lack of resources.
What made you want to work with young people who have these addictions?
Originally, when I started my nurse training I wanted to get into psychology but I realised I loved working with kids so wanted to pursue this as a career. I was able to be so much more creative and inventive in my work and we also get to have a lot of fun. I think sometimes we have a habit of turning children and adolescents into adults before their time and as I was training, I realised I loved working with young people.
How important is it that nurses are recognised for awards like this?
I think it’s really important as after you have qualified you’re required to do two years as a Band 5 nurse and then work your way up. I think young nurses aren’t always encouraged to follow their ideas through and as graduates they are expected to fit in with how it’s been done for a long time.
Awards that recognise young nurses will give them confidence and will hopefully encourage nurses who want to see a difference, be the difference. Highlighting that there are a lot of young nurses out there doing that and winning awards gives hope to young people who want to come into nursing, particularly mental health nursing. I started my training at 18 and there were only two of us on the course, whereas, if you look at children’s nursing, candidates tend to be much younger.
How does winning this award make you look at your future and the nursing profession?
I’m so excited about all the challenges and things coming up later this year and next. I’m already going to speak to student nurses at a number of different universities and I will be presenting at conferences, such as the 2015 Florence Nightingale Foundation Conference next March. It’s also made me stop and think about where my career is going; I’d really like to be a clinical nurse specialist and I’d like to develop my input into student’s career development and practice so now I can look at how I can do that.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m starting a part time post-graduate diploma in January 2015 in Children and Young People’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme (CYP IAPT) then after that I’d like to specialise in clinical nursing within the community working with children and young people with behavioural problems. I’d also like to produce some fresh research on children and adolescents as much of the research we use is out of date.