The role of the Nurse in the SRH Community
Date: 06 Apr 2023
Author: Polly Zipperlen
Polly Zipperlen, Sister in Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare working in rural West Wales, spotlights the role of the Nurse in the SRH community
The Healthcare community prides itself on an inclusive approach to workforce, extolling the values of a unique skill-mix where each profession is interdependent. Doctors, nurses and healthcare support workers thought to fit together like pieces of a jigsaw, each piece sculpted to both accommodate the curves of the adjacent parts while displaying its own flourish of contours. But look closely and what at first glance appears cohesive, may be a façade. Rather, the ‘jigsaw’ has more numerous smaller pieces (nurses) and the larger pieces (doctors), being fewer in number, but having more colourful and intricate detailing. Look even more closely and see that while some parts of the jigsaw fit snugly together, other parts have gaps and overlaps and have been forcibly crammed into a neighbourhood. Rather like a novelty jigsaw in a Christmas cracker that doesn’t quite fit together, the pieces rely on the picture to convey cohesion.
But not so in the SRH world; nurses are truly part of the workforce plan and delivery of care. The Hatfield Vision to improve reproductive health outcomes for women and girls contemplates a horizon where healthcare standards facilitate true inclusivity in the workplace. Not only does the ‘Vision’ apply to our patients, but so too to the SRH nursing workforce; 97% FSRH nurse-members are women and this commitment to inclusion runs through the core of the Faculty’s ethos.
The Faculty for Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare nurtures a holistic workforce by cherishing the value and skills of its members, rather than differentiating by profession. In place of profession-based qualifications, the FSRH have an expertise-led approach to education. The DFSRH, LoCs and the FRT qualification are open to both medical and nursing staff and as such validate nursing expertise and redefine the boundaries which remain arbitrary in other specialties. That is not to say boundaries are blurred, but like a jigsaw are not linear, instead flex to individual professional ambition. Clinical nurse specialists in menopause, contraception, gender, vasectomy and abortion-care all find a home within SRH.
In addition to clinical prowess, nursing contribution to SRH research and service development is championed and frequently showcased at one of the Faculty’s Hot Topic Events and Conferences, offering the professions a homologous podium. So too is Nurse representation on the Faculty’s variant committees championed, including Events, Research, International and Regional taskforces, ensuring a nursing perspective throughout the SRH landscape.
More recently, following a survey of nurse members, the FSRH has committed to identifying and delineating the barriers to Nurse membership and involvement in Faculty enterprise. This pledge of inclusivity crystallizes nurses’ position in Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, but some responsibility lies within the nursing workforce to accept the ‘baton’. It is up to us to grab the baton, explore the landscape and settle into the ‘jigsaw’, wholly and integrally part of the bright and colourful picture of the FSRH future.