An innovative nursing structure labelled “iconoclastic” upon its introduction at a leading animal hospital 12 months ago has been hailed as a huge success. Linnaeus-owned North Downs Specialist Referrals (NDSR), in Bletchingley, Surrey, launched its new nursing strategy during Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month (VNAM) last year to enable positive career pathways and provide “gold standard” support for its 100-strong nursing team.
A year later, the team at NDSR has hailed the positive impact of the pioneering model which Lauren Emmett, head of nursing services, said had benefited not only the nursing team but the hospital as a whole.
Lauren said: “The Nursing Pathways structure has been a huge success. When we launched it during VNAM last year, it brought about great innovation and change for a very established team. The response was overwhelmingly positive and all of the roles within the structure have been filled by talented team members within NDSR.”
As part of the Nursing Pathways structure, NDSR introduced four nurse manager roles with specific operational, quality, pastoral and training responsibilities, of which three are operated as a job share. Four lead supervisor roles were created, with 10 supervisors and 10 team leaders additionally appointed, both allowing individuals to flourish and the hospital to benefit from the leadership qualities within their team.
Lauren said: “We listened and acted, developing roles that met the passion of individual nurses. It was lovely to see people coming forward who did not previously hold a leadership role. All of our new leaders have undergone leadership training internally to help give them the tools to take on their extra responsibilities.
“What we have seen is people thriving. We’ve had an amazing response, with everyone building new skills for themselves. The structure has really built upon the huge leadership skillset we already had within our team. It is a pleasure to see our leaders exercising their skills and to watch their confidence grow.
“We are able to invest time into each individual and are able to support them as their own person. We place a huge emphasis on a feedback culture, communication and suggestions – our leaders are listening to their teams and bringing forward their suggestions, as they care deeply about what they have to say.”
Those thoughts are echoed by NDSR Clinical Director Gerry Polton who said the implementation of the new nursing structure, which he described last year as “iconoclastic”, has brought about unique trilateral benefits.
Gerry said: “When we introduced our industry-leading Nursing Pathways structure last year, it was with a clear aim of placing a real emphasis on work-life balance, defined career progression and the overall roles and importance of vet nurses and nursing assistants.
“As we once again mark VNAM and reflect on the first 12 months of the strategy, it has not only met our expectations but far exceeded them, with a palpable improvement in engagement across the board.
“For those who have taken on additional responsibilities, the enthusiasm, energy and purpose with which those nurses have responded has been a joy to witness. The introduction of our team leader positions has provided fabulous bilateral benefits, both for the newly-appointed senior nurse team members who are thriving on the additional responsibility for their teams and for the individual team members who now have much greater contact with the management structure.
“Of course, on top of this, these changes mean greater job satisfaction for all, meaning greater engagement with roles which, again, results in even higher levels of quality care for our patients. So, the bilateral benefits for our nursing team members actually represent trilateral benefits when we consider even higher levels of patient care, so it’s a win-win-win situation!”
NDSR offers specialist-led services in anaesthesia and analgesia, cardiology, dentistry, dermatology, diagnostic imaging, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, soft tissue surgery and spinal surgery. For more information, visit their website or search for North Downs Specialist Referrals on social media.