NHS worker who trains nurses of the future comes top of the class


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A nurse who has worked tirelessly to train the next generation has scooped a top nursing award – on the same night as winning a patient care gong.

Ffion Pursglove is so passionate about harnessing the talents and skills of future nurses that she developed a new guide to help them get to grips with the everyday work undertaken on her ward at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor.

The guide features frequently asked questions on topics student nurses might be too embarrassed to ask about while on work experience. It is one of a series of training improvements that she has led, which have earned her the prestigious Mentorship Award from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Wales.

The award represents a double success for the 29-year-old nurse from Caernarfon, who works as a development practitioner on the Urology and Colorectal ward at Ysbyty Gwynedd.

She was announced the winner of the Most Outstanding Contribution to Improving the Life of Patients Award in the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board staff awards on the same night as the RCN awards.

“It’s been an overwhelming experience,” said Ffion, who collected her RCN award at a glittering ceremony at City Hall, Cardiff, in November.

“I’m just doing my job really but it’s a pleasure to be recognised for the hard work you do and my family are very proud.

“The ceremony was just like the Oscars. They played music when you walked on stage to collect your award. It was such a great experience and I was so proud to be part of it.

“I never thought I’d win. It was 11.30pm by the time my category was announced. We were sitting there nervously on the edge of our seats. I couldn’t believe it. I had my hands over my face.

“I wasn’t able to attend the staff awards in Llandudno as it was being held on the same night as the RCN awards but during the night, colleagues at the Betsi awards were texting to say I’d won that award too so it was quite overwhelming.”

The nurse, who attended Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen in Gwynedd, said strong mentorship was vital to developing the talents and skills of trainee nurses.

“It’s really important to me. I feel the students are the future and if you don’t teach them correctly now then you’re setting them off on the wrong foot from the start,” said Ffion, who has been working at Ysbyty Gwynedd since qualifying at Bangor University in 2009.

“I’m so passionate about giving them a good experience. When I was a student, I had a negative experience and it nearly stopped me from going into nursing altogether. We need to nurture and take care of the people who want to enter the profession.

“We train them as well as possible so that we’re able to produce the best nurses we can. If you have happy and competent staff then your patients receive the best possible care.”

Ffion was seconded to her role 16 months ago and the first action she took was to ensure all staff received mentorship training, with support in place to guide trainees effectively.

“I developed the student pack containing pictures and diagrams of procedures that we do every day but that students wouldn’t necessarily have come across,” she said.

“Sometimes students don’t have time to answer questions or feel uncomfortable asking them. It can be quite overwhelming for a student nurse when they first arrive on the ward and there’s a lot to take in. They can take this guide home and read through it and if they still have questions they won’t feel as uncomfortable asking them.

“We work in partnership with Bangor University and have ensured everybody has completed the mentorship course so we’re meeting the guidelines laid down by the Nursing and Midwifery Council and offering the best training platform we can.”

The ward has now developed an excellent reputation for training with many students opting to come to do their practical training there. At any one time, the ward supports three or four students for anything up to three months.

Nominating Ffion for the award, her colleague Helen Blowers said: “Ffion has boosted the reputation of the ward and many students have requested to carry out management placements, with others being recruited following their immense enjoyment of their time on the ward.

“Ffion’s kind and gentle demeanour ensures students feel welcomed into their placements and through her enthusiasm for learning she has encouraged further staff to undertake the mentorship course allowing for many more students to have the opportunity of becoming part of the Tegid Team.

“Ffion consistently puts the priorities of the students’ first, works tirelessly to ensure that they are well supported and given the best opportunity to excel creating different avenues for learning and forging relationships with members of the clinical team. She is an absolute asset to Tegid Ward and I hope that she continues to excel in the role for many years to come.”

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