2016 TUF/BAUN Urology Nurse of the Year - Fidelma Cahill

Read about Fidelma Cahill's action-packed time as the 2016 TUF/BAUN Urology Nurse of the Year

Since winning this AMAZING award, I have truly had an awesome year.

Firstly, I was able to pay for myself to attend 2 European Association of Urological Nurses conferences in London 2017 and in Copenhagen 2018 and cover my annual membership fees.  These conferences are invaluable in providing opportunities to network with peers from across Europe and within our Pan London area that I wouldn’t normally meet on a daily basis.  It’s also great for my own professional development to learn about other clinical developments and research ideas that have changed and enhanced clinical practice, for the benefit of patients.  Being able to fund my EAUN membership and conference attendance through this award, has freed up money within our team for more junior members of the team to attend the conference and pay for their membership.  I hope this will provide them with opportunities to meet other junior researchers, inspire their career in urological cancer research and encourage them to take on a more responsible role within our translational research team.

A year after winning this award in 2016, I was invited to present at the 2017 BAUN conference in Glasgow.  This was a nerve-wracking experience, speaking to 300 delegates about my ‘award winning year’ and what had led me to be nominated for this award.  I really wasn’t sure anyone would be that interested in what I had been doing, or that I had indeed, done anything out of the ordinary.  However, I was truly humbled by the feedback I received.  I had nurses from all over the U.K. approaching me to tell them how inspired they felt hearing my presentation and how I had consistently gone over and above my role to support my patients and improve their experience and the care we deliver to them.  One of the nicest compliments I had from the vice-chair of the conference, was that I should have been the opening presentation for the conference, inspiring discussions and ideas for practice improvement”.

Following on from this presentation, one of the clinical nurse specialists has approached  me with an interest in further understanding how we can support the cultural needs of black Afro-Caribbean patients and developing an education tool so that we reach out to this ‘vulnerable’ population who defer westernised medicine, preferring to first try culturally traditional herbal medicine or seek other medical opinions in their home countries, before later accepting the treatment we offer, often when their disease has progressed.  We are now in discussions with my boss, Dr Mieke Van Hemelrijck at King’s College London and Professor Sarah Faithful at Surrey University, to plan how we might potentially develop this, alongside a clinical trial.

I was featured in the TUF matters spring 2017 edition and have since been approached to work on two clinical trials with urology Consultants, who had seen me in passing in the urology department, but who had no idea who I was or what I did.  It’s very humbling when a newly appointed professor makes the effort to congratulate you on winning Urology Nurse of the Year.

The TUF award allowed me to self-fund my poster entry in the Guy’s and St Thomas’s International Nurses Day poster competition.  My poster on engaging black men with healthcare and research, went on to win this competition.

On the back of my award win, I was invited to Winchester Hospital to present to a cohort of 20 newly qualified nurses with an interest in Urological cancer nursing.  My remit was to give a 30-minute talk that would inspire the next generation of urology nurses, through my lived experiences.  Once again, I was delighted to hear the buzz in the room after my talk and the discussions that followed with these nurses reflecting on services and care within their clinical areas and trying to think about how/what they could improve and how to lead on this.

Attending the BUG/BAUN Meeting on Advanced Prostate Cancer, using the TUF funds to cover my own expenses, was another opportunity to develop my knowledge of advanced prostate cancer and transfer this knowledge back to my own clinical practice with this group of patients and improve how I support them to improve their quality of life whilst on hormonal treatment.

I again used my TUF funds to attend the Department of Allied Health Professions and Midwifery Conference, where I also presented a poster.  This conference focused on Bridging the Gap: Improving care by listening, understanding and implementing Patient/Client and Carer Centred Research.  This follows on from the patient-public involvement work I lead on in my clinical areas, engaging patients with interviews, focus groups and formulating research questions and proposals.  My most recent experience of this was with bladder cancer patients, who firstly provided an insight into their priorities for research questions.  Secondly, these patients were able to give their feedback on the Graham Roberts Cohort Study our TOUR team have written.  This study will be funded by the late Graham Roberts, who sadly died of bladder cancer in 2016, and who wanted to leave a research legacy to do more for bladder cancer patients.

When Graham’s wife approached one of our clinicians to set up a research legacy in Graham’s name, this came with a £1.8 million donation to our team, to set up a comprehensive research team, comprising clinicians, academics, research scientists, research fellows, data managers, research nurses and trial coordinators.  My award-winning status has secured my position as the research nurse with this team for the next 5 years.  This kind of job security is virtually unheard of within research, so for this alone, on a personal and professional level, I am eternally grateful to have received this award.

Winning this award and the year that has followed, has given me the confidence to apply for the Emerging Leaders programme, which will enable me put into practice tools and new approaches with confidence, apply leadership skills in day to day work to make a positive difference for themselves and those they work with, develop self-awareness of their leadership style and leadership choices, developing a shared understanding of what it takes to be an effective leader at King’s.  The impact of this award on me and my career has been a completely unexpected turn of events, but has sparked a confidence to challenge myself, make an impact on the team I work with and improve the clinical care I deliver to patients.

Fidelma Cahill, February 2018

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