The aim of this assignment is to write a development account and will ensure to give a clear view of my development since staring on the foundation degree in health and social care. I work as a Community Trainee Assistant Practitioner under the management of a team of Registered District Nursing Staff and work closely with the Multidisciplinary teams and am employed for a large NHS organisation. This following piece of reflection will be written using the “what” model of structured reflection Driscoll (2007) as I know and understand it. I will ensure to maintain confidentiality at all times (Nursing and Midwifery council 2008).
I will be going on to discuss how I have developed in my academic writing skills and personal development which includes how I have developed my new skills and how my service users have benefited from this. I will discuss the strategies that I have implemented in order to facilitate my development. Firstly I will discuss how I have developed with my academic writing skills and how this new knowledge has helped me feel more confident in writing reports and care plans. I will then continue to go on and discuss how I have developed in my personal development and how I now relate my new knowledge to my work place, improving patient care and how my mentor and assessor have supported me in my new role as a Trainee Assistant Practitioner.
Starting my journey on the foundation degree in health and social care a year ago I thought to myself “what have I let myself in for” and felt very anxious as I didn’t feel that had the intelligence to do the course: At the beginning of the course we were asked to position ourselves on the “Jelly baby Tree” showing where we thought we were: I was clinging on to the bottom of the trunk! As I have never written an assignment before but I am still here and doing so much better than I could ever image. I feel under pressure to finish this foundation degree because I have been involved in a steering group and have promoted the Assistant Practitioner to other colleges and I am one of the first staff members from my Trust to have the privilege to do this course.
Understanding academic writing is the most difficult part of learning as it is understanding a very precise style of writing which is also very time consuming: According to Pelias (2003p 369-373): “in the UK, academic writing is often the process or method and outcome of a student’s time in higher education and yet many students and Lecturers would agree that it can be the most difficult part of learning and studying”. When writing assignments I must try to be more precise and only give essential information. When completing patch work this was especially difficult because the separate patches were only small pieces of work and it was hard to keep to the word limit but this is part of academic writing and this did help me to give only the essential information and to my surprise I received a good mark.
When I look back to when I first started university and completed my first assignment I can now see how much I have achieved in my academic writing skills. I am now more aware of avoiding plagiarism after feedback from my Anatomy and physiology assignment stated this, which really worried me. I needed to be aware for future assignments, Smith (2005p77) states “Do not plagiarise, this occurs if you use another authors words without acknowledgement and it can seriously affect the assessment of your assignment”. This feedback made me research plagiarism as I did not really know what it meant and the seriousness of it. This has been a valuable learning curve for me and a part of learning is making mistakes but learning from them.
I now know how important referencing is as it’s a part of academic writing skills. I will ensure to reference information in my assignment correctly by proving information such as the authors name, the full title, year of publication and the relevant page number this follow the Harvard style of referencing that’s recognise in universities. This type of referencing gives the reader the opportunity to refer back to the sources for themselves (Cottrell 2008). It also shows that I am not plagiarising! Academic writing skills is also about reading and finding the sources to support my ideas, it is not just about what I think, it’s about what the author is saying because the author has completed the relevant research . I am now able to find the relevant information from sources like the university library, e-books, journals articles and the internet. I did have a few problems with logging on to the e-books but I have overcome that problem now. I now know that when starting my assignment I must try to widen my reading skills as this will help me in future assignments.
My strategy for writing assignments is first to write a plan as this very helpful to get me stated and I use bullet points for ideas for what I want to write about, Clay (2003: 47-52) suggest “that planning may help with writers block”.
I also ensure that I have a wider reading source, to start using a mind map to help me map out my direction and take some time thinking about what I need to say and that I am precise, and only write the facts. I must always be aware that it is very important not to plagiarise, so I ensure I write a references in the correct way and do a full reference list as I go along, so I never forget the source that I use, having learnt this by experience! I also must proof read my assignment before I submit it. I know that there is the centre of academic writing skills based at the University site which I can access.
My new found skill in academic writing has improved my confidence within my work place for example: when writing care plans and reports, I can now see how much my writing skills have improved over the last year but I must still ensure I check my spelling because I know that is still a weakness.
I still feel very anxious as I approach my second year as I am sure the academic writing will get even harder but with support from university , my mentor and work colleagues I hope I will achieve my goal and become an Assistant Practitioner and hope to pass my knowledge on to other Trainee Assistant Practitioners. I have looked back over my assignments from starting the course and cannot believe what I have achieved.
Since starting my foundation degree in health and social care my personal development skills have increased from a time management perspective. The University have explained to me how to manage my time well, Cottrell( 2008p13 ) states ” you are responsible for organising your time around taught sessions and meeting assignment deadlines”. I have found managing my time challenging because I have a young family, but I now know how essential it is to set some time every evening do my university work. My Trust have also authorized two extra study days a month. I must have done something right as I always manage my deadlines, I never leave assignments, to the last minute as I feel I would be under too much pressure, I like to start them at least two or three weeks before the deadline as I am not very good under pressure which causes me to worry. For example, when I was informed that I had five assignments to complete from December until March I panicked. My strategy is to try not to panic take advantage of the Trust Learning and Development Department and try to stay focused, also plan my time well and take full advantage of my self – directed study days; taking one assignment at a time and not to think about the next one until I have finish the one before. So I now know I have developed well in time management because I am now just finishing my last assignments for my first year which is moving into higher education and still finding time to complete my work books and write some refection for my portfolio and still spend quality time with my family.
My colleagues can also see how much my confidence has grown over the last year and how much I have developed my skills in practice with patients for example: I was asked to visit a patient who had cancer, to do a blood test. I observed her abdomen was swollen. She had had a shunt put in to manage this, but the swelling had moved the shunt which raised my concerns. Her husband was extremely distressed having tried to get her to be seen by the oncologist, but was told that there were no appointments until the next day. His distress was making the patient distressed. Having assessed both the physical emergency and the psychological distress I contacted the Oncologist and was told to dial 999 to get her into hospital. With the confidence and knowledge I have gained as a Trainee Assistant Practitioner I was very capable to handle the situation. As a Health Care Assistant, without this new knowledge and skills, I would have only just completed the task that I was delegated, and reported the situation back to the team which would have caused the patient and family much more distress, the patient would have been in more danger and this would be more work for my colleagues to have followed up.
I am also now much more aware of the need to assess the patient holistically: According to Lippicott et al (2007:27): “Holistic Care addresses all dimensions of a person, including: physical, emotional, social and spiritual”. They also state that to deliver holistic care, you have to consider cognitive, ethical and patient and family issues. This relates to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: “the need for safety has both physical and psychological aspects”, Kozier et al (2004:197). Before I started this foundation degree I never heard of holistic care and did not have a clue what Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs meant but now my strategy is to always assess a patient in a holistic way which could be promoting the safety of a patient and to assess a patient as a whole person as one poor state of health affects all the other areas of a patient’s life including the family so it is important to try to address all issues (using the multidisciplinary team).
I also now have a better understanding of the importance of documentation and record keeping. The Department of Health (2006) stipulates “that all individuals who work for the National Health Service organisations are responsible for any records that they create or use in the performance of their duties”. I complete any documentation correctly by ensuring that I am accurate in what I am writing stating the time and date, using a black pen when writing, and writing clearly so other health professionals can read it. I have learnt that effective record keeping allows other staff to monitor patient’s response to the treatment that they are receiving so the patient’s care is of better quality and they will always be receiving the right treatment. I must ensure that when witting in the care plan I must write everything down from the treatment to the condition of the patient and would always ask for consent before starting the task and document this. Good quality documentation ensures quality of practice and if a complaint was made against me, the documentation provides evidence of the care I provided the patient. Records can be used as evidence in a court of law. Within my Trust the strategies to improve standards of record keeping is to start using a hand hold electronic devices which allows staff to complete documentation in a patients house and is able to share promptly across the healthcare teams .
My team sister has recognised how I have developed within my new role and she now uses me differently by given me more responsibility with patient care, but I know that I only work within my limitation of my own competence as I am accountable for my actions, Kozier B (2004:477) states that: “Accountability is the ability and willingness to assume responsibility for ones actions; accepting the consequences of that behaviour.” I also now know that everything I do with patients has an ethical and legal principle. I now can see how I have developed personally within the legal principle and now understand that I can be liable for any mistakes I could make within a court of law. I am also more aware never to take work that delegated to me if I know that I am not competent to complete the task safely and would never feel uncomfortable to inform my team sister if I was unable to do the task because I now know that I would only protecting myself, my colleague and most importantly the patient by doing this.
I can now see how much I have developed in the last year in both my academic writing and with patient care. I still need to be more careful with my spelling and to ensure I proof read my assignments before submitting them. I now have a better understanding about plagiarism and will not make that mistake again and I now understand a little better how to reference my work correctly. If in doubt I always ask for help and feel that I have been supported really well by my Trust: The Team Sisters and Managers recognise how much work I have to do and gives me time as well as input and I also have the support from the Learning and Development Department. Patients have also benefited from my new knowledge, I think that they are getting better quality of care and this also impacts positively on the team in time management.
Reading this piece of work shows what I have learnt and I feel really amazed at what I have achieved and how much my confidence has grown and this has been noticed by my colleagues. If someone had predicted to me at the beginning of this course the marks I would be getting, I would never have believed them. I am just finishing my first year and it is exciting to think what I will feel like at the end of the second year, because I can only improve and develop further because I also now know that you never stop learning.
I now feel My position on the “Jelly baby Tree” is now heading towards the top of the tree because I have achieved so much and I am very proud of myself and will continue to improve my knowledge and skills in my second year.