20 September 2022

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‘Since I joined Palliative Discovery, I’ve been won over.’

Carmel says her experience of the programme has made a huge difference to the way she feels about her return to nursing.

Carmel O'Donnell

After a career break away from frontline palliative care nursing, Carmel O’Donnell could have been forgiven for feeling a little anxious about going back to the busy hospital she left in 2018. While Carmel made the decision to return to clinical practice prior to joining Palliative Discovery, she says her experience of the programme has made a huge difference to the way she feels about that return.

Carmel is one of the more than 1,100 nurses who have joined Palliative Discovery, the online platform we launched in early 2022 to provide high quality learning and career support to the people at the forefront of end of life care – Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs).

“There’s absolutely no question that I’m going back with renewed confidence and that has been enhanced by Palliative Discovery.”

Trained in London in the 1980s and after time working, in Canada and Australia, then back in the capital, Carmel returned to the west coast of Ireland in 1998 working in acute medicine and hospice care before taking up a post as a CNS in Letterkenny. Now, after that career break which included two years as a CNS in Jersey, and teaching both under and post graduate nurses at University of Ulster in Londonderry, Carmel is starting work back at Letterkenny University Hospital.

Carmel says that opportunities to share, learn and be inspired by fellow CNSs are few and far between, so when she saw an article on e-hospice, it jumped off the screen at her.

“I loved the idea of something specifically tailored to CNSs working in palliative care. That was enough for me. And ever since the day I joined Palliative Discovery, I have been won over. It absolutely does what it says on the tin.”

What do you like about Palliative Discovery?

The style and format

“Having a whole programme of events mapped out is brilliant as it means I can plan my diary. And then there’s the abundance of resources you can consult whenever you want them.”

The format of the sessions, particularly the classes and the workshops, appeals to Carmel, the balance between the theoretical and the practical.

“It’s discipline-led and is very useful in terms of keeping up with my CPD requirements. Then there’s also the learning from others, hearing evidence based practice along with a sense of a really tight network all working to the same end.”

“As a senior nurse it’s so important to keep learning and Palliative Discovery is helping me do that.”

The content

The topics covered are ones that Carmel says she comes across regularly and two sessions stand out in particular.

“The classes about stewardship and palliative sedation were particularly useful for me and exemplify how Palliative Discovery has really increased my confidence in relation to enhancing my continuing curiosity to improve patient outcomes. I will be sharing bite-sized chunks of what I’ve learned with my colleagues in my new job., for sure”

As well as the formal learning, Carmel has also welcomed the opportunity offered by the regular workshops designed to help CNSs build a healthy and sustainable career. “Nurses do find reflective practice difficult and tend to dwell on the negative aspects rather than looking at what we’ve done well. Palliative Discovery is one of the first opportunities I’ve had to engage in this process.

The network

“Having the space to talk, free from your workplace peers is reassuring. Palliative Discovery feels like a safe, anonymous, open and responsive space that’s about sharing with all our colleagues. The workshops are a place for me to look after me as well as being a lovely place to meet fellow CNSs.”

Carmel O'Donnell 2

The easy access, wealth of online resources and full calendar of events make the programme suitable for nurses at all levels of knowledge and regardless of how busy they are. “Most of the time we are too busy rushing around, Palliative Discovery gives us a chance to put our foot on the brake and hear how other people, perhaps working in different settings, are managing the same challenges.”

Perhaps most tellingly, Carmel is convinced that her increased levels of knowledge and confidence will help her provide even better care.

“As a senior nurse it’s so important to keep learning and Palliative Discovery is helping me do that. I’ve enhanced my knowledge, and this can only be good for the person-centred care I want to provide my patients.”

To enhance your knowledge and confidence and to network with the 1,000+ cohort of fellow CNSs from across the UK and now internationally, sign up for Palliative Discovery now.

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