Our visit to Dublin: Yvonne Greig and Kath MacDonald tell their story

Yvonne Greig Lecturer in Midwifery QMU

Yvonne:  The 26th February 2019 saw me getting on a plane and flying over to the Emerald Isle into the beautiful blue sky. It was with a little bit of trepidation that I boarded the flight alone on my way to Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland’s Nursing and Midwifery Conference. Four and a half years in to my Professional Doctoral studies I’d had an abstract accepted and at last was about to present my own research findings. A daunting thought. I arrived at my hotel courtesy of a friendly Dubliner and some interesting city driving and had a relaxing evening. I took myself off for a walk and found the conference venue. The great and the good of Ireland’s surgeons were easy to spot. A black tie ‘do’ and many academic robes. I skulked past in my jeans, carrying my M&S bag with a salad in it! So now I knew where I was headed for the conference, I wandered down Grafton Street and enjoyed the fine classy buskers of the city. The following day was free with the opening ceremony of the conference being another dinner in the evening. I met up with Kath MacDonald for breakfast and a jolly day in Dublin was had. We familiarised ourselves with Dublin’s fair city in the lovely sunshine and learned quite a bit about it. The afternoon was spent meandering along the lovely interesting streets and lanes and generally basking in the Irish atmosphere. That evening Kath and I went along to the conference venue to put Kath’s poster up and to listen to what we thought would be a plenary session. Alas, there was no plenary session but there were many well-dressed people there to attend the dinner. We were not amongst them, we both had jeans and trainers on again and were in no way ready for any kind of formal occasion! We left and found a nice dinner venue for ourselves. The conference began the following morning with excellent keynote speakers. Most notably for me Professor Linda Aitken who presented her findings about safe staffing levels and how by employing more RNs and less HCSW clinical standards improve and costs go down. Food for thought! Another interesting plenary was given by Dr Linda Shamien, ICN President Emerita who asked the audience how many of us had had training with respect to policy-making? It would be lovely to see this adopted for all nurses and midwives in whatever capacity they practice.

Kath MacDonald Senior Lecturer QMU

Kath:  The third plenary was by Professor Jonathon Drennan, who has built on Professors Aiken’s work in the Irish context, looking at safe staffing. Findings suggest that increasing registered nurses over 3 pilot sites to an 80/20 ratio resulted in: a decrease in agency staff, less episodes of care left undone, less missed meal breaks, less adverse events, less need for 1:1 “specialing” of patients. It would appear that the evidence of our value is building! Hurray for us! The final plenary was by Professor Margarete Sandelowski (she of the Qualitative Research text book fame)! She asserted that nurses need to move beyond Nursing Theories to theories of intervention, translation, evaluation and data science. We need to publish outside of nursing journals so that others might hear of us. She followed this up the next day with an interesting masterclass on mixed methods research.

Yvonne All too soon it was 11.25 and my turn to present. I’d had a practice run at QMU a couple of week earlier but the nerves were a bit shaky. Despite this, my presentation – talking about midwives experiences in raising and discussing obesity with pregnant women appeared to be well received and there was some discussion generated. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Professor Margarete Sandelowski was in my audience. Just as well I didn’t know who she was really! The other presenters all delivered interesting topics with respect to fetal and maternal health and child health and it was really satisfying to be able to support other people who had just completed or were in the process of undertaking their PhDs. Sadly for me I was leaving early the next day and so missed the masterclass on mixed methods research, the conference organisers had altered the calendar after I’d booked my flights! All was not lost though. A trip to the Dublin arena that night for a Steely Dan gig made up for it – now that took me back to the ‘80s and being a student nurse again, where it all began! Kath: I sat in on Yvonne’s presentation and thought she did a really good job. A confident informed presentation, which has real implications for practice in future. Having been on the conference circuit for many years now, I realise that it’s not just the content of conferences that’s important but the networking. I was delighted therefore to be able to connect Yvonne with some like-minded researchers and hope this will be the beginning of a beautiful relationship! We also managed to convince her of the power of twitter and this is already reaping rewards. Readers take note!! Finally I would like to end with a quote from Dr Shamien which strongly resonates with the kind of Graduates (yes the capital G is deliberate!) I want for our future profession: “ We need a seat at the table so we can no longer accept the things we cannot change, but rather change the things we cannot accept”. 7/3/19

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