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News archive for December 2008

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New nurses deserve greater credit

Date released: Monday 1 December 2008

Newly qualified nurses and midwives are competent and should be given greater credit for their skills. That is the key finding of a newly published study, Nursing and Midwifery in Scotland: Being Fit for Practice, which is the largest and most comprehensive review of nursing and midwifery education in Scotland.

The researchers have concluded that newly qualified nurses and midwives are fit for practice at the point of registration, despite common perceptions within health care that students do not have the necessary skills.

Professor William Lauder, Head of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Stirling, led the study, which was commissioned by NHS Education for Scotland (NES) to examine the success of implementation of the UKCC Commission for Nursing and Midwifery Education’s report Fitness for Practice (1999). Researchers from the universities of Dundee, Salford and Sheffield, and NHS Fife, also contributed to the findings.

Professor Lauder said: “It is clear that newly qualified nurses and midwives should be given greater credit for the skills they have acquired in training.

“The debate about the competence of newly qualified nurses and midwives has a long and contentious history, but much of this has relied on anecdote, personal experience and entrenched opinion, rather than evidence. Ward managers often have low expectations of newly qualified nurses, who themselves can feel poorly prepared for their new role.

Fitness for Practice has been central to developments in nurse and midwifery education for nearly a decade. It was seen as the vehicle to introduce clinical skills more extensively and at an earlier point in the curriculum, and we have been able to confirm that it has, on the whole, been a successful curriculum model. What we found is that there is a high level of important key skills, demonstrating that the pre-registration curriculum is producing students who are competent. 

“For example, in hand decontamination, the mode score was 10 out of a maximum 10 – a satisfactory achievement for the curriculum given the emphasis within the NHS on minimising hospital acquired infection. Students also demonstrated good communication skills. Although there are still areas for improvement in curriculum development and delivery, these positive findings represent a fundamental shift from the largely negative findings reported in earlier UK studies.”

The report makes 27 recommendations to improve the preparation of nurses and their time in practice, pointing out that an apparent lack of confidence in some newly qualified practitioners should not be confused with a lack of competence. It also calls for greater acknowledgement of the support provided to students by mentors.


The research project was presented at a conference, Supporting Nursing and Midwifery Student Recruitment, Selection and Retention, which was hosted jointly by Scottish Government Health Department, CNO Directorate and NHS Education for Scotland NMAHP Directorate.

Nursing and Midwifery in Scotland: Being Fit for Practice was authored by: Professor William Lauder, University of Stirling; Michelle Roxburgh, University of Dundee; Karen Holland, University of Salford; Professor Martin Johnson, University of Salford; Professor Roger Watson, University of Sheffield; Mary Porter, NHS Fife; Professor Keith Topping, University of Dundee; Aga Behr, University of Dundee.

Footballers win Scottish universities title

Date announced: Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The University of Stirling football team won its first trophy of the season today, defeating Edinburgh University 4-2 in the final match of the Queen's Park Shield.

This is the oldest and most prestigious inter-university football competition in Scotland, and is played for on a league basis. Stirling take possession of the Shield for the first time since 2002, and also go into the British Universities Championship, to be played in the spring, as Scottish champions.

The match, played on the artificial surface as the grass pitch was unplayable due to heavy frost, proved a tight affair with both teams displaying excellent technical skill and tactics. Against the run of play Edinburgh University scored after 10 minutes when a long throw-in caused panic in the Stirling defence, allowing an unmarked midfielder to score. As the game settled, Stirling's expansive passing game took shape. Stirling equalised after 20 minutes when a quick free kick from Creag Robertson thundered the cross-bar and Neil Shave reacted sharply to head the ball into the net. Stirling took the lead 5 minutes later when Euan Black tapped in after some poor defending on Edinburgh's part.

Edinburgh started brightly in the second half and pinned Stirling back in their own half for long periods. After 70 minutes, Edinburgh produced a well-worked equaliser after a neat one-two at the edge of the Stirling box. However, Stirling reacted positively and Creag Robertson produced another excellent free-kick that curled round the wall and finished high into the corner of the Edinburgh net. As Edinburgh pushed for an equaliser, substitute Neil Clydesdale picked the ball up on the edge of the Edinburgh 18-yard box, waltzed past two defenders and curled the ball beautifully into the top corner of the net to confirm Stirling's victory.

Presentation of the Shield will be made at a date to be arranged.

Improving and Changing Dementia Care: public lectures in Inverness and Stornoway

Date released: Thursday, 4 December 2008

A leading expert in dementia is to deliver a lecture on the challenges in educating people about coping with dementia.

Professor June Andrews, Director of the Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) at the University of Stirling, will speak on Improving and changing dementia care, one of a series of lectures given by the University at its Highland and Western Isles campuses.

She will deliver her talk in Inverness on Thursday 11 December at 4pm, at the University’s Highland Campus, within the Auditorium at the Centre for Health Science. On Friday 12 December, she will give the lecture in Stornoway, in Lecture Room 2.440, of the Western Isles Campus, at 3pm.

The lectures are open to all and admission is free.

Dementia is the name given to a number of illnesses characterised by the progressive loss of mental functions and the ability to look after oneself. A major cause of disability in people aged over 60, dementia is one of the biggest healthcare issues facing us today, with more spent on it in the UK than cancer, heart disease and stroke put together.

There are currently 700,000 people with dementia in the UK, 65,000 of them in Scotland, with numbers potentially set to double in the next 30 years. In 2007, its estimated cost to the nation was between £1.5 and £1.7 billion. Improving and changing dementia care is therefore a huge priority at government level, across health care organisations and within local communities.

Professor Andrews said: “To develop effective strategies to support the growing numbers of people with dementia, it is vitally important to share the latest thinking and research. The biggest challenges are educating people about coping with dementia and early diagnosis of the condition.”

Professor Andrews is recognised as a knowledgeable and authoritative voice on dementia related issues, with extensive practical experience in the field. Consulted by governments, local authorities, health services, the private sector and voluntary organisations on how to improve services, she has worked for the government in the Health Department as the Director of Nursing of two general hospitals, leading the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland and working as a nurse in psychiatric and geriatric hospitals.

The DSDC works to disseminate research and good practice about home and hospital care for people with any type of dementia and tackles problems highlighted by the Care Commission and the public. Recently the Centre has helped to design and remodel care homes and offers information about dementia from its extensive library, including information about design, activities, nutrition, day care, acute care, communication, challenging behaviour, assistive technology and spiritual care.

Visit the DSDC website for further information.

Future Stirling Lectures will cover topics such as rural housing, child protection and elderly care in rural communities. The lecture series will be a regular feature in coming years, and the coming year’s programme for Inverness is:
22 January 2009 at 5pm, Professor Brigid Daniel with Professor Jane Aldgate: Child protection in the Highlands and Islands
26 March 2009 at 4pm, Dr Madhu Satsangi:Rural housing in the Highlands and Islands
16 April 2009 at 4pm, Professor David Bell:The challenge of elderly care in rural communities
29 April 2009 at 4pm, Professor William Lauder:Nursing: the matured clinical and research profession
14 May 2009 at 4pm Professor Andrew Watterson:Health, ‘wealth’ and hazards: analysing changing Highlands and Islands life

The Highland Campus is at the Centre for Health Science, next to Raigmore Hospital, Old Perth Road, Inverness IV2 3JH

In Stornoway:

15 May 2009 at 3pmProfessor Andrew Watterson:Health, ‘wealth’ and hazards: analysing changing Highlands and Islands life
The Western Isles Campus is at Western Isles Hospital, MacAulay Rd., Stornoway, Isle of Lewis HS1 2AF


Scottish entrepreneur Jim McColl makes personal donation towards £13.9m library modernisation

Date released: Friday 5 December 2008

Jim McColl, chairman and chief executive of Clyde Blowers, has provided “a substantial six-figure sum” targeted at the creation of an Enterprise Zone in the University of Stirling library, which is undergoing a £13.9m renovation as part of the university’s 40th birthday celebrations.

The new library, which will open in autumn 2010, will be created on the site of the existing facility as a state-of-the-art centre for research, study and learning.

McColl, a leading member of the Entrepreneurial Exchange, which aims to increase public awareness of the importance and value of entrepreneurs to the Scottish economy, said: “The University of Stirling is widely recognised as a centre of excellence for enterprise education, and that is why I have made this donation supporting the creation of an Enterprise Zone as part of plans to transform the library.

“I am convinced that the Enterprise Zone will be a key development for students and other users, and will encourage enterprise and entrepreneurship in education. I am excited by the imaginative thinking behind it.

“I learnt a lot about business early in my career from reading classic texts such as Think and Grow Rich, the Napoleon Hill book inspired by Andrew Carnegie, and I want to encourage students to read and benefit from the great texts and other new learning available on enterprise and wealth creation.

“I believe the development and encouragement of entrepreneurial skills is absolutely vital to the future of business in Scotland and to the continuing success of Scotland as a country, and I am pleased to offer this support.”

Professor Christine Hallett, Principal of the University of Stirling, said: “We are delighted that an entrepreneur and businessman of the standing and achievements of Jim McColl has decided to support the Enterprise Zone. We are also grateful for the generosity of his donation, which is a major contribution towards the funding of the Zone.

“The Enterprise Zone will create a new way of learning for the 21st century. Students and other library users will be able to experience a unique entrepreneurial environment, where like-minded individuals – across all disciplines – can access the latest information, explore the latest research, share knowledge and experience, and discuss common themes.

“It will be a place for local entrepreneurs and business people to share in Stirling’s academic excellence by accessing the latest management resource and the expertise of academic staff and research groups.

“Ultimately, the Enterprise Zone will not only be central to the transformed library, but will also be central to the University’s mission to provide the very best resources for all who use our services.

“It will help Stirling scholars achieve their academic potential and prepare them for the world of work, and provide an invaluable intellectual resource and a lasting legacy for our wider community.”

For more information, please visit:

Stirling produces Scotland's first Doctor of Nursing

Date released: Friday 12 December 2008

In the nursing world, Cathy Hutchison became something of a trailblazer when she graduated from the University of Stirling recently as Scotland’s first ever Doctor of Nursing.

Cathy’s Doctorate is the culmination of six years of hard work, four years of which were spent working on her thesis. A tall order, considering she was also working full time in a consultant nurse post in Greater Glasgow and Clyde (based at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre) and having the second of her two children. So what was her motivation?

"I wanted to do some kind of doctoral study because I think it is important for my work, to enable me to do it better.  So I always intended to do my PhD at some point – although perhaps taking it on just a year into a new job wasn’t the best time. It was certainly a challenge.  And then, of course, I had my second daughter in the midst of it all. But in life, you can’t plan everything.”

Cathy’s background is in cancer research and her interest has always been in cancer research and practice. “I chose to study at Stirling because the University’s teaching in the Clinical Doctorate programme focuses strongly on how academic theory translates into practice. And the staff offer students a fantastic level of support.”

Today, Dr Cathy Hutchison is busier than ever, leading cancer nursing for Glasgow and Clyde, acting as Nurse Representative on the Glasgow Cancer Group and working with patients and colleagues to develop practice, as well as fulfilling her role as an honorary lecturer at Glasgow University.

As she was photographed with University Chancellor Dr James Naughtie at the close of her graduation ceremony, did the first ever Doctor of Nursing in Scotland feel that all the effort and hard work had been worthwhile?

“Looking back, studying for my doctorate was definitely the right decision. Even though the commitment required is substantial and you need to be very determined. Everything I studied and practised at Stirling I have subsequently used in my work. The important thing about the University of Stirling’s Clinical Doctorate Programme is that all the projects can be tailored to your professional role and I really believe it has helped me to do my job better.”

Cathy’s choice of university reflects the fact that the Department of Nursing and Midwifery at Stirling has a well deserved reputation for being research-led, practice-driven and people-focused. It welcomes applications for the Doctorate qualification from students in midwifery and other allied health professions, as well as nursing.

Programme details are available from the University of Stirling at or phone 01786 466340 for information.


Western Isles winner – the student who nursed a dream

Date released: Wednesday 17 December 2008

Norma MacLeod, one of the nursing students who appeared in the BBC TV series ‘Nursing a Dream’, has finally had her dream come true.

The thirty-three year old, who hails from the Isle of Lewis, graduated from the University of Stirling in November with a BSc in Adult Nursing. You might think that was reason enough for celebration but Norma has also won the prestigious RG Bomont Award, which is given for Excellence in Clinical Practice.

Nominated students are assessed on their performance throughout the eight or nine work placements they must undergo during their three years of study. The irony is that one of Norma’s first work placements felt like it might be her last.

On her very first day in a hospital ward, being shadowed by the ‘Nursing A Dream’ film crew, she found herself dealing with an elderly patient who was having a heart attack. It was precisely the sort of upsetting event which Norma had been concerned about experiencing.

“The nurses and doctors took charge but they told me to stay by the patient, hold her hand and talk to reassure her – which I did, for what seemed like a very long time, while the doctors attended to her. It was a traumatic experience and at the end of it, I just broke down.

“I realised later that, if I had been more involved with the clinical aspects of her treatment, I might have felt less emotional. But as it was I felt completely useless, for how long can you go on reassuring a person when you don’t understand and can’t explain, what is being done to help them?

“It was so draining that, at the end of that day, I wasn’t sure whether nursing was really for me. But then my mentor sat me down, asked me how I was and said that I did very well for my first day and I realised that, just maybe, I could do it after all….”

Since that baptism of fire, Norma has gone from strength to strength. Even so, receiving the Bomont Award was completely unexpected.

“I’d no idea I had been nominated until my lecturer, Annetta Smith, rang me to say that she had put my name forward and that I had won. I remember we were all so proud and happy for Rachel Kennedy, when she won it two years ago. Now it’s amazing to think that students from our Western Isles Campus have won it twice.”

Dr Annetta Smith, Associate Head of the Department of Nursing and Midwifery at the WI Campus said: “Norma displayed many exceptional qualities…and as her personal tutor, I was impressed by the way she spoke about nursing care, demonstrating a genuine caring ethos and an impressive knowledge of nursing practice. However, Norma was always quietly reflective about her achievements and genuinely surprised to hear she had won the award.”

So what does it mean for Norma to have both her BSc in Nursing and the Bomont Award under her nursing belt?

“Well, I left school with only six standard grades and I never imagined that one day I would get a degree. Now I definitely have plans for the future. The truth is I don’t want to settle for a wee job and just relax. I love nursing too much. As a student, you don’t really know how you are doing, or if you’re on the right track. Now the degree and the award are on my CV – it’s given me a boost in confidence that I really might have something to offer for these last three years of study and effort.

“I have achieved more than I ever thought I could and now I think I will continue my studies. In this profession, I don’t think you can afford to stop learning. So I may attempt a Masters degree. It depends how I get on – one step at a time! The programme has given me so much more confidence that I really do feel ready to tackle anything. But I have to keep a balance in my life and at the end of the day, my family come first.

“I owe thanks to a lot of people who helped and encouraged me – especially my husband, Neil, for his support and encouragement and parents for babysitting at awkward times.  But I would just like to say that my University lecturers in Stornoway were amazing. I’ve since met lots of students who have studied in other institutions and their experiences have made me realise how much support our lecturers gave us.

“They really did mentor us and in the first year, we were in and out of their offices all the time. Even now, we keep in touch and I know they will always be our mentors. I believe we’ve made a connection for life.”

Useful facts:

  • The R G Bomont Award was created by the University's Department of Nursing and Midwifery, following a generous donation from former University Secretary, Dr. Robert G Bomont - a key figure in the setting up of the department in 1996.
  • This year, the University will produce a total of 235 newly qualified nurses and midwives; 104 of these from the Western Isles and Highland campuses.
  • The University’s Department of Nursing and Midwifery is now welcoming applications for September 2009. So if a career in nursing appeals, visit:


Stirling leads the way in Research

Date released: Thursday 18 December 2008

The University of Stirling is the leading Scottish research university in Sport, Nursing and Midwifery, Education and Film and Media.

The results of the UK-wide Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), published today, confirm the world-class quality of the work being done by Stirling’s researchers. 

In four areas - Sport, Nursing and Midwifery, Education, and Film and Media - the University is top of the league of Scottish research.  In Social Policy and Social Work, and Philosophy a strong second place has been achieved.  Other areas which have performed particularly strongly include Aquaculture and Economics.

Across the University, the international excellence and importance of the work carried out by its researchers has been recognised by panels of experts who have spent almost the whole of this year assessing the quality of research in all UK universities.  10% of the University of Stirling’s research has been judged to be world leading, and a further three quarters as internationally excellent and internationally recognised.

Welcoming the results, the University Principal, Professor Christine Hallett, said: “I am delighted to see that the dedication and hard work of colleagues has been recognised in this way.  It is particularly pleasing to see that our research in Sport has been rated the best in Scotland and fifth overall in the UK in the year in which we have been designated as Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence. 

“In areas including Nursing, Education, and Social Policy, the outstanding quality of our research work will make a direct contribution to improving the healthcare, skills, social welfare and quality of life of the people of Scotland.  Equally, the international standards against which our work has been assessed confirm our place as a global higher education institution.”

The RAE, a detailed examination of the quality of research in Britain’s universities, is the main factor in determining the allocation of more than £1 billion a year of public funding for research.  The new results will determine the amount of Main Quality Research Grant which Stirling will receive from the Scottish Funding Council for at least the next four years.

This is the first time the exercise has been carried out since 2001. Full details of the RAE process are available at while Scottish results can be accessed at


University research helps Scottish Ambulance Service treat patients

Date released: Friday 19 December 2008

David Fitzpatrick, a paramedic with the Scottish Ambulance Service, has won a national award for his research at the University of Stirling.

At the recent 999 Emergency Medical Services Research Forum conference, David won the JRCALC* Prize for Research most likely to affect practice for a paper he co-authored with Dr Edward Duncan on emergency treatment for patients with type 2 diabetes.

This was a key outcome of his work while seconded from the SAS to the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions (NMAHP) Research Unit at Stirling, funded by the Scottish Chief Scientist Office.  Dr Duncan, who carried out the prize-winning review with David,is the NMAHP Research Unit's clinical research fellow.

The research examined the pre-hospital management of hypoglycaemic emergencies.  Entitled "Improving post-hypoglycaemic patient safety in the pre-hospital environment: a systematic review", it highlighted the risks of oral hypoglycaemic agents (OHAs) in patients with type 2 diabetes, the possibility of repeat hypoglycaemic events within 48 hours and inconsistencies in referral processes after a patient had been treated and referred.

It concluded with a set of recommendations for both research and practice and the paper has recently been accepted for publication in the Emergency Medicine Journal.

David has now been accepted onto a Masters in Philosophy by Research programme at the University of Stirling, which will give him a formal qualification.

Professor William Lauder, Head of Nursing and Midwifery, said: “David’s paper is an excellent demonstration of how research can combine with practice to have a positive influence on patient care. It is important that we work closely with the Scottish Ambulance Service and other front-line health bodies to keep our research efforts relevant and useful.”

Background information

JRCALC is the Joint Royal Colleges Ambulance Services Liaison Committee, which is a national forum to support the UK Ambulance Service with a particular focus on its interactions with other professional healthcare groups.

The Scottish Ambulance Service is responsible for the pre-hospital care and transportation of patients to appropriate care facilities for circa 500,000 accident & emergency and 1.7 million non-emergency cases each year.

The NMAHP Research Unit has academic bases within Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Stirling.  Its website is at

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