2020 Year of the Nurse Inspirations – Vickie Kearney
This week – which also marks National Eating Disorder Awareness Week and National Careers Week - we showcase the inspirational Vickie Kearney. She is the team manager for Oxfordshire CAMHS Eating Disorder Service and Clinical Nurse Specialist
Oxford Health has more than 1,500 nurses working in mental and community health settings.
They are highly skilled, multi-faceted professionals from a host of backgrounds that represent our diverse communities.
2020 is our time to reflect on these skills, the commitment and expert clinical care they bring, and the impact they make on the lives of so many.
This year is also an opportunity to say thank you to the professions; to showcase their diverse talents and expertise; and to promote nursing and midwifery as careers with a great deal to offer.
Why I wanted to become a nurse
Whilst completing a BTEC at college I gained work experience every term in different health and social care areas. This experience supported my decision to train as a nurse and helped me choose the field of learning disability nursing. That was over 20 years ago!
I started my nursing career as a forensic learning disability nurse on a medium secure unit.
After a couple of years I was seconded to gain my mental health nursing qualification. For the following 5 years I then worked in an outreach service for adults with severe psychosis and schizophrenia before changing practice completely and moving to work in a child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS).
During this work I became especially interested in eating disorders and realised this was a passion. Then four years ago I came to work as a clinical nurse specialist in CAMHS eating disorders and I now manage this service.
My career has progressed significantly therapeutically and operationally and I am trained to deliver specific cognitive behaviour therapy and family-based treatments as well as being the clinical lead for our multi-family therapy treatment program.
I have also completed PG Cert level training and completing a leadership qualification. My ambition is to conduct some research in the area of eating disorders.
Nursing is an extremely diverse career, with many opportunities and I could not imagine doing anything else even after all these years.
On a typical day
I work flexible hours and start every day at 8am. We have twice weekly assessment clinics where I join the pre and post assessment discussions. I deliver parent training programmes, support meals in clinic and facilitate multi family therapy workshops. The clinical care I deliver is mainly family based but I do work individually with some young people as well. Monitoring physical risks is a big part of the work in eating disorders. As a manger I also conduct regular audits.
How I've made a difference
Working with young people experiencing mental illness is hugely rewarding. We are having an impact on functioning, recovery and resilience at a crucial stage of development that is likely to have a future impact as this person becomes an adult.
It can be challenging as young people do not always want help or are not motivated to receive help yet but overcoming this and seeing people recover gives me an immense feeling of pride and drives my passion to be an ED nurse.
This connection with young people and their families is a privilege at often a difficult time in people lives. Breaking down the stigma of mental illness is a crucial part of our role in mental health services.
In my current role I am very committed to developing as a leader including developing skills in clinical consultation, teaching and training, facilitating research within the service and working at a more strategic level influencing policy, practice, commissioning and budgets.
What would you say to a young person interested in a career in nursing?
Get experience and talk to people doing the job. This will give you opportunities to follow your interest and passion. Nursing is an extremely diverse career, with many opportunities and I could not imagine doing anything else even after all these years.
Find out more about nursing with Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.
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Published: 6 March 2020