Spotlight on Rachel Burridge, Advanced Clinical Practitioner

“I absolutely love working with older people – nothing brings me more joy than an older patient telling you that you’ve done a good job,” said Rachel Burridge, Lead Advanced Clinical Practitioner (ACP) in the Older People’s Emergency Department (OPED), who manages a team of seven other ACPs with various professional backgrounds.

“I’ve always wanted to be a nurse. When I was young I looked after my dad as he was unwell, and two of my grandparents worked in healthcare too. I was fortunate enough to have wonderful grandparents, and this is where my passion for care of the elderly stems from.

“I went to the University of Birmingham to study nursing and joined NNUH in 2010. I have worked across different OPM wards to get experience of all aspects of Older People’s Medicine (OPM) and was promoted to Deputy Sister within OPM in 2012. I was asked if I wanted to start a new role as an Advanced Nurse Practitioner in 2014. I then began my Master’s in Advanced Practice at UEA and became a qualified Advanced Clinical Practitioner in 2017. During that time I worked with Dr Sarah Bailey to set up the UK’s first OPED which has gone on to be recognised by the CQC as an ‘Outstanding’ service.”

As part of her role as an ACP, Rachel must constantly demonstrate the ability to work to the four pillars of Advanced Practice: clinical practice, leadership and management, education and research.

“When a patient arrives in OPED, or is referred from another area of ED, I will take their history, examine them and make an initial diagnosis,” she said. “This will then decide which tests I need to book or medication to prescribe.

“I have three non-clinical days a month and the rest of my time is spent in OPED. During my non-clinical hours I am studying for a Professional Doctorate at UEA, in which I’m conducting a qualitative piece of research looking at the experiences of patients attending OPED. My non-clinical time involves auditing, line management, rota/leave duties and involvement in governance such as serious incident investigations.

“Developing and progressing within your career as a nurse requires you to eventually choose between a management or clinical position. Within Older People’s Medicine, the only clinical option is the ACP role.

“My advice is to get experience in acute areas of the Trust where assessment skills can be obtained. I gained some experience within the Acute Medical Unit for example. Think about what area your passion lies in and prepare to work hard within that area to ensure you have an in-depth knowledge of the speciality. An interest in academia is a must as you need to have a Master’s to become an ACP.

“I’d highly recommend going down this career path if you want to progress but keep that patient-contact even at a senior level.”