I am Kyle and I work as a Professional Education Practitioner (PEP) at one of the NHS trusts in England. I came to the UK in 2016 and started my job as a staff nurse in the Department of Critical Care. Before moving to the UK, I worked as a Neuro-Critical Care Nurse in the Philippines. After a few years of working in the critical care unit, I was fortunate to land the PEP role, which I consider different from the roles I had in the past.
Why this role
Starting a career in nursing is not easy. I experienced many struggles particularly during my first few years in this profession both back in the Philippines and when I moved to the UK. The challenges and struggles I experienced inspired me to support my colleagues, especially the new nurses. I feel that through my current role, I can help them gain their competence and confidence, both are vital for every member of staff. Providing positive learning experiences ultimately supports delivering high standards of care to our patients.
Furthermore, my position empowers me to provide insight on the experiences of internationally qualified nurses and provide representation for nurses from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) background.
My role and what my typical day is
I consider my role as dynamic and multi-dimensional. Our team delivers training on high acuity clinical skills, simulation-based education and pastoral care with non-medical staff. The sessions I facilitate cover a wide variety of settings from one to one, in a class or group setting.
In terms of clinical skills, I deliver tracheostomy training, acute skills and certain clinical equipment. Our team also runs simulations in actual clinical settings (in situ simulation) where my acting skills are put to the test acting as the patient. From nursing to teaching to acting, who knows what’s next!
I also currently lead our Trust’s Preceptorship programme for newly registered practitioners. The programme provides a structured transition for new registrants supporting a mix of 120+ nurses, nursing associates and ODPs every year. I run Introduction days, Acute Skills, Cultural Awareness and Development days within the programme.
My role also involves educational governance which includes policy review and updates, competency writing, developing support packages for staff and attending career events. The often unseen side of my role focuses on the administrative tasks of planning and organising these sessions, recordkeeping, programme evaluation, and networking with teams across the Trust and the Integrated Care System.
Challenges of a Professional Education Practitioner
Coming from a traditional staff nurse role where I was used to a routine or a fixed schedule, I struggled during my first months as a PEP. It was very autonomous and I needed to plan and create my own work schedule. It took me some time to find my feet and plan my work. Nowadays, work just finds itself in my calendar. It can still be overwhelming but I learned how to manage both my time and the pressure my role entails. As they say, iron is forged through fire.
Another challenge is having English as a second language like most Filipino Nurses especially when I started my role as an educator. I was very conscious on how I speak with my accent and even to the way I delivered my teaching sessions. However, I realised that my accent only adds to my uniqueness and personality. As long as I speak clearly, people will still understand me.
The CoVID-19 pandemic added pressure in my work as an educator. Staff safety and infection control measures must be considered when delivering our teaching sessions. Room capacity has been significantly reduced which has pushed me to become adaptive in the delivery of teaching. I have had to facilitate more sessions to accommodate every new registrant and use blended learning. I also have to take into account surges in clinical demands and staffing pressures versus staff training.
Skills needed to become a Professional Education Practitioner
People skills, good clinical knowledge and the ability to present yourself well are essential for this role. A PEP needs to have the confidence and skills in communicating with people. The knowledge on teaching and learning styles, learning environments and components of effective teaching is gained through experience and the post graduate course. Thus, it is also key that you have the commitment to lifelong learning.
As a PEP, we are expected to have a sound and evidence-based knowledge of what we teach. The ability to critically analyse current evidence and link with appropriate nursing practise when providing training are also key in this role.
At this time, my main focus is to continually develop our Preceptorship Programme and push the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion agenda in the education of hospital staff.
Currently, I am completing my Post Graduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP) which is a teaching and assessing qualification in higher education. This leads to an internationally recognised Fellowship in Advanced Higher Education. It opens opportunities for me to more university links and potentially to a more senior education post within the Trust.
Advice to fellow Filipino UK nurses
Prepare early and keep your best foot forward every day.
Career opportunities will sometimes present itself when you least expect it. You must prepare yourself early on if you aspire in progressing in your own career. Interview preparation may only take you 1-2weeks but your experience and the extra steps you take to build your portfolio takes time. I do recommend doing link roles (that you also enjoy doing), accessing leadership and management training (there’s lots of free training out there!) but never forget the core responsibilities of your current role and performing your best in it.
If you don’t ask, you won’t receive.
It’s great when you receive continuous support from your managers or your education team. However, I must highlight that this isn’t always the case, and you may have to find career development opportunities for yourself. Ask your manager, search through your Trust intranet, get advice from your colleagues, network with nursing associations and even Twitter. Through these, development opportunities will open for you! I was able to take post graduate modules without needing to spend my hard-earned money as they were all paid for by my Trust because it was deemed essential to my role.
Don’t be afraid to take risks.
Moving to a full-time education post was a big leap for me. It was scary at first and admittedly I didn’t know what the new job will lead me to. I still took the leap and jumped out of my comfort zone. Looking back, I now feel it was all worth it. Be brave and do not be afraid to try and take risks.
Do not give up.
If you struggle at first, just continue what you are doing and you will eventually develop yourself and become good at what you do. Practice makes perfect, but with experience, perfection can be a habit.