Creating Impact

I realise that it is some time since I completed a blog entry for the School website. In the fast-changing context of health and care services, particularly in the education and research worlds that underpin these, it is hard to keep abreast of the different ways we have to communicate and to share ideas. Whilst we can debate the effectiveness of making resolutions, the new calendar year provides an opportunity to renew a commitment towards alternative forms of communication, including this blog.

Holidays sometimes provide a period of quiet and solitude to reflect on changes that we experience, and the impact that we make in our professional lives. 2018 was the 30th anniversary of the start of my professional career, the year that I started the Bachelor of Nursing programme at the University of Glasgow. That degree provided me with an opportunity to study in a research-led University, and to learn from inspiring clinical and academic staff working at the forefront of the profession.

However, other than the values that characterise nursing, the nursing practice that I learnt then is in so many ways different from today’s clinical worlds that our students see and learn in. Policies, systems and health technologies have changed, but still the gaps between evidence (in all its forms) of what works, and the experiences of our patients, can persist. This is not the fault of practitioners working in demanding health and care services. Rather it is a consequence of how evidence is created, and how all stakeholders work together (or not) to secure its implementation and spread. My holiday reflection centred on the impact that those of us who have pursued careers in education and research have, and how we can support evidence-based improvements in health and care services.

I am confident that all of us working in academia aspire to make a positive impact on patients and all service users, regardless of how indirect our work may seem to service delivery. We want to inspire the next generation of health and care professionals. We want our research to improve the lives of patients and their families. Ultimately, we want to have an impact. Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the impacts that we do have as we get tied up in the politics and policies of our day-to-day work. These impacts are never more visible for me than graduation. Our most recent ceremony in December 2018, and our School celebrations with over 300 graduates and their guests, was testimony of the impact that our academic and administrative staff, supported by our colleagues in partner service organisations, have created. I am confident that all our graduates leave Bangor University to embark on professional careers during which they will continue to develop their practice, keeping up to date with the latest thinking and research.

I have been particularly pleased that the School has been creating new ways of working together, and with our partner NHS organisation, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB), to increase the impact of our research. Although our researchers are engaged in research studies all over the globe, our unique relationship with (BCUHB) means that together we can ensure that the population of North Wales has the opportunity to benefit from our research findings. Led by Dr Sion Williams and Professor Paul Brocklehurst, our Clinical Academic Programme will provide a wide range of opportunities for local clinicians from all professional groups to develop their own research expertise with us. With leading implementation scientists amongst the academic staff, it’s appropriate that the School is acting on our own findings of the importance of partnership in securing the implementation of evidence. I hope that the new calendar year will provide new opportunities to extend these partnerships with other health and care providers close to home.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all our students, staff and visitors to the School website a very Happy New Year.