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A&E nurse marks major achievement during Coronavirus pandemic

Royal Stoke nurse Erica Smith has become one of just a few people in the country to complete a demanding accreditation programme within her specialty – all whilst working against the backdrop of the Coronavirus pandemic. Erica works as an advanced nurse practitioner (ANP) in Accident & Emergency and recently completed a Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) validation process which examines skill level, competency and patient management capabilities.

When Erica began her assessment, only 35 people in the country had managed to achieve the accreditation.

Erica said: “It gives you a great confidence boost to know that your skills have been officially validated against a national standard and it’s confirmation that everything you’re doing is absolutely the right thing for the patient. I wanted to be a nurse because I loved the idea of caring for people for a living and being able to make a difference. It’s very rewarding and no two days are the same. I love working in A&E, it’s fast- paced and quite exciting, though difficult at times. 

“Working through the pandemic has given me a whole different perspective on things. It’s been strange not to see so many family members and relatives here and I have had to have some very difficult conversations over the phone. The layout of the A&E unit has changed, which has taken some getting used to but we’ve worked really well together as a team to adapt to the new situation.”

ANPs work independently, assessing, diagnosing and treating patients post-triage.

The RCEM qualification was introduced in 2015 and requires candidates to build an electronic portfolio evidencing the work they do. Candidates are assessed by senior clinicians such as consultants, which usually involves having their work closely monitored and sessions with patients observed.

Clinical Director for Urgent and Emergency Medicine and Emergency Medicine Consultant Ann-Marie Morris said: “­­Erica has done exceptionally well in achieving this accreditation. It is a very rigorous, arduous process which takes years to work through. Erica is an excellent clinician and this qualification verifies this, she should be really proud of what she has achieved.”