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A day in the working life of Krissie Stiles, a Burn Care Advisor

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Krissie Stiles

Krissie Stiles is a Burn Care Advisor at Queen Victoria Hospital (QVH) in East Grinstead. QVH is one of the few hospitals in the UK with a Specialist Burn Care Unit and Krissie’s role is critical part of a burn survivors journey.

Here is a day in the working life of Krissie Stiles

How long have you worked at QVH?

I’ve worked here for 13 years

What was it that made you want to work for QVH?

I came here as a student nurse on an elective placement in the summer of 2003, following an eye opening lecture on the subject of burns management. Instantly, I knew that a Burns Unit was the only place I would want to work. I spent the last 3 months of my nurse training working on the Burns Unit. The support and enthusiasm of my mentors, the complexity and determination of the burns patients, and my interest in wound care made me want to be part of the QVH team.

How would you describe your role using only one sentence?

My role requires me to make links with all the A&E and Minor Injury departments, and Walk In Centres, alongside GP Practices, Community and Tissue Viability Nurses, and Critical Care areas, ambulance and fire services in the South East region; to educate and support clinicians involved in care, management and referral of patients with burn injuries.

What, in your opinion, makes your team great?

Our team is a group of highly skilled, multidisciplinary professionals working together to ensure our burns patients have an opportunity to restore their physical and psychological health, as well as their social function. The burns team love what they do and as a result have years of experience, which enables them to guide and support the complex patient group we look after. I am fortunate to have the skills, knowledge, experience and support of our Burns Team behind me in my role as the Burn Care Advisor.

Briefly describe the main activities of your job on a typical day:

My role is wonderful in that it can be very different every day.

I liaise with Clinical and Practice Development Leads at the referring hospitals across the catchment area of the Queen Victoria Hospital to arrange burns update training for their nurses and doctors. I also recruit and support the Burns Link Nurses in each referring hospital.

I also deliver burns training and support to pre-hospital emergency teams, healthcare assistants, Emergency Nurse Practitioners, Emergency Department doctors in order to maintain standardised approach to burn care from the time of injury until patient’s arrival to the specialist burns centre.

I am responsible for planning and facilitating the Burns Management Study Days at QVH, which are one day, interactive courses, free of charge for any healthcare professional expected to manage the care of the burn injured child or adult in either pre-hospital, hospital or emergency context.

I provide feedback on accuracy of burns referrals and follow up the highlighted training needs with respective clinicians/departments. I act as an educational resource – regularly updating referring professionals on current trends in burn care.

I liaise with colleagues within my own Burns Unit and London and South East of England Burn Network with an aim to standardise the approach to burn care across the South East. I also correspond with international colleagues to ensure consistency and sharing of practice for the benefit of burn injured patients.

I work collaboratively with local higher education providers to ensure that links between theory and practice are securely understood and implemented, and that the training meets the requirements of the 2013 National Burn Care Standards. I have published articles in national peer reviewed medical and nursing journals.

Which other staff do you work most closely with in your role e.g. porters, consultants, matrons etc?

Practice Educators, University Lecturers, Burns Outreach Nurses, Burns and Emergency Department Consultants, Anaesthetic Consultants, Burns Unit Nurse Managers.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

My role allows me to feel part of the burn injured patient’s journey to recovery and that is a very satisfying feeling. There is an unfulfilled need for burns education within Emergency Services clinical teams and my job allows me access to any clinician involved in the care of the burn injured patient, from the time of injury to arrival at a specialist burns unit.

I also enjoy receiving positive feedback from training sessions and seeing more timely, appropriate referrals from the clinicians I have trained, which accentuates the enthusiasm and enjoyment I have for my role as the Burn Care Advisor. I am hopeful that this means improved, timely and appropriate initial care is delivered to our burns patients outside of the specialist burns service, which in the long term will improve patients’ healing times, reduce likelihood of scarring, provide appropriate specialist care from the outset and ensure supportive environment for our patients to reclaim their pre-injury life.

My role also allows me a privileged insight into the experiences of our colleagues outside of the burn services, who are expected to assess and treat burns patients in remote, often challenging and stressful environments with only limited resources available.

What is the biggest challenge or difficulty in your job?

I would say that the most challenging part of my role is working independently without the immediate “buffer” of our burns team. During training and liaison with our referring hospitals, I am representing our Burns Unit and our Hospital, and I hope that I do our wonderful team justice.

What do you/your team do to cope with/wind down after a tough day?

If I have a challenging day, I am lucky enough to be able to call my clinical leads and debrief on the situation. It always helps to get a balanced appraisal of the circumstances, receive feedback and learning strategies for the future. I also have a very supportive partner and two young children at home, who don’t allow me to dwell on anything for too long. I am extremely lucky to have such a supportive network of friends and colleagues, which allows me to keep myself balanced and on the right track within this amazing role.

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