Advanced nursing roles: Sara Dalby’s Story

Author: Sara Dalby
Advanced nursing roles: Sara Dalby’s Story

Sara Dalby travelled to the USA in 2014 to explore roles which give nurses the chance to progress professionally and develop greater skills. Her Fellowship has helped Sara to progress her own career and influence the development of advanced roles in the UK.

The Fellowship

On her Fellowship, Sara visited hospitals and health education facilities in five US states observing roles such as nurse practitioner and registered nurse first assistant, where nurses and physician assistants have extended their knowledge and skills to an advanced level. This ‘middle grade’ system has been established for longer in the USA than in the UK and Sara was eager to learn lessons for both clinical practice and education.

Sara is a qualified Surgical First Assistant (SFA), Surgical Care Practitioner (SCP) and Advanced Nurse Practitioner. She is also an associate lecturer. At the time of her Fellowship she worked as a SCP at Aintree Hospital in colorectal, also undertaking dermatology procedures.

The Results

“I met inspirational people with whom I am still in contact, and who had a positive effect on me both personally and professionally. The Churchill Fellowship has increased my confidence and provided me with opportunities I would otherwise not have had” – Sara Dalby

Since returning to the UK, Sara has shared her findings widely and been interviewed by national media (see below). She has given presentations regionally, nationally and internationally at surgical, perioperative and nursing conferences. She has co-authored a textbook on perioperative practice and continues to work as an associate lecturer at Edge Hill University. She has co-written and co-developed one of only four SCP MSc programmes accredited by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) (Eng) - the only one in the UK that offers all 11 pathways. Her role as a SCP now focuses on maxillofacial and orthopaedics, giving her the opportunity to undertake more complex surgeries.

Watch Sara talk about advanced nursing roles in the Royal College of Nursing’s ‘This is Modern Nursing’ video

Sara has become a member of the RCS’ Extended Surgical Team Expert Reference group and is part of the working group for Improving Surgical Training service and the wider workforce at the RCS(Eng). These groups look at different ways of working to support high standards of patient care and support surgical training.

Sara was the subject of research for a national policy document by the RCS, entitled ‘A question of balance: the extended surgical team’, with managers, executives, consultant surgeons and trainee surgeons at Aintree Hospital, as well as Sara herself, interviewed about her SCP role. Sara was also successful in two applications for ideas or innovations for the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Celebrating Nursing Practice project. She is currently on a one-day secondment to the RCN, where she is programme lead for their clinical leadership programme, and works on national career frameworks and a course on infection control.

Watch Sara talk about the role of the Surgical Care practitioner

Sara's Fellowship was awarded in partnership with the Burdett Trust for Nursing.

View Sara’s Health Career’s profile

Read the BBC’s interview with Sara

Read an interview with Sara in The Guardian

Read Sara’s Fellowship report