Professor Vivien Coates welcomes in the New Year

Launch event for the first FNF Chair of Clinical Nursing Practice Research in Northern Ireland.

I’ve been launched! Well my post has. Since starting as FNF Chair in March last year the intention was to host an event to publicise this post, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland. However, constructing a suitable event has taken some time. We decided to tie the launch to the Western Health & Social Care Trust (WHSCT) Nursing and Midwifery Awards Ceremony. The point of the Trust’s ceremony is to recognise and reward the unique contribution of nurses and midwives in the Trust and celebrate excellence in these areas of care. Such a theme aligned very well with the aspirations of Florence Nightingale.

The launch was a success on several levels. Professor Liz Robb gave an opening address, presenting her vision of the network of Professors of Clinical Nursing Research across the UK. The launch gave opportunities to profile the post to the Trust Board, Chief Executive, senior managers and directors from across the Trust and to representatives of the wider workforce attending the ceremony. The event was supported by the Minister for Health (Ms Michelle O’Neill) and the Chief Nurse for NI (Mrs Charlotte McCardle) and so enabled the post to be publicised beyond the locality of the North West.

The launch provided an opportunity to bring together colleagues from the three organisations underpinning the post (Ulster University, WHSCT & FNF). The dinner the evening before and informal conversations around planning the launch helped to consolidate our relationships. For me the best part of the event was to see my colleagues from across the joint appointment coming together. A tangible drawing together of the key players and in our busy worlds this does not happen often enough, even though we share many common goals.

The launch aside, much other business was done. Liz met Martina Meenan who was awarded a FNF Travel Scholarship to enable her to visit centres of excellence for those with dementia. She also met Anne McKenny, Jane Curran, Angela O’Neill & Imelda McLeod who were also recipients of Travel Scholarships to inform their work relating to community treatment for adults with eating disorders.

Over the course of the morning conversations were had between the Chief Executive of the WHSCT, the Chief Nurse, The Head of School of Nursing and the Director of the Institute of Nursing and Health Research. It was an embodiment of the basis of the post – bringing together academia and the health service, nursing practice, scholarship and academia. We need such events and opportunities to happen more frequently!

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