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Why we should welcome feedback and listen to those who raise concerns in both healthcare and research

Criticism and feedback can feel uncomfortable to both give and receive. It can be an awkward exchange, where both parties may be reluctant to let their guard down, concede to oversights, reveal any flaws and relinquish any feelings of responsibility. It can also be incredibly frustrating on both sides.

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But lets look at both sides of the coin rationally. Firstly, Why would someone offer feedback?

  • They want to make something better
  • They see an opportunity to improve something
  • They want to help you
  • They want something corrected
  • You, or someone else have asked them for feedback
  • They want to offer you their unique outsider/fresh eyes view of something that you may not be privy to.

These are all gifts, learning opportunities and avenues toward creating our best outputs. Here, we theorise that everyone who offers feedback has good intentions, which some may argue is unrealistic and naive. However, I am personally unwilling to lose out on the potentially invaluable gold dust of feedback for the sake of those who wish to meddle in mischief. The vast majority of those who enter both the healthcare and academic professions do so in order to contribute positively.

In order to feel valued and perform to the best of their abilities, healthcare staff must feel heard. This is the same for those in research. As such, whether we agree with the feedback we are given, it must be heard, examined, considered and then either acted upon or rebutted respectfully.

If you are doing your best, feel passionately about what you are trying to achieve and have worked hard to achieve something amazing, it can be hard to hear that there may be cracks in your work, despite all of your well intended efforts. You are also in the job to give your best and contribute positively. But you cannot know everything…so keep listening to those who have the ‘fresh eyes’ to see what you may not.

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Denial only denies you an opportunity to do better.

Lets look outside the box:

What is going on here?

Restaurant owner:

  • Wants her food to be good
  • Believes she has done her best
  • Defensive and protective about her achievements

Customer & Gordon Ramsey:

  • Wants good food
  • Wants mistakes corrected
  • Wants things to be better
  • Wants to be helpful and constructive
  • Has a new ‘Fresh eyes’ perspective from outside the organisation

The negative response to this feedback could mean:

  • The customer probably won’t return to the restaurant
  • The customer will avoid offering any further feedback
  • A missed opportunity to make things better
  • The expert will at some point back away from offering further assistance
  • The restaurant may fail to reach its full potential

FYI – These restaurant owners always achieve great things for their restaurants once they listen and act upon feedback

Reflection: Can we apply these roles to some of the roles active healthcare and research? (Including our own)!

Don’t despair!… If you get everything right, all of the time, you miss new opportunities to learn

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Some of my early academic papers were really very terrible. Some of the work I do now is muddled at first. I make mistakes, everyone does. I am in no way perfect, nor do I alone have all of the skills to change the world. I need help. I welcome help and input from those who can fill in for the skills I do not have and the knowledge I cannot yet see. This is why I welcome feedback and listen to those who raise concerns. In fact I grab every opportunity to do so.

In exchange for this, my work improves, I see new opportunities to thrive, new ideas are generated and collective collaborations make our outputs much stronger. Success.

If I had been steadfast in feeling that because I was so passionate about the work I was doing, nothing could possibly be wrong with it, then I would have missed the chance to create something better. Yes, it used to be frustrating to hear criticism. But this frustration can be turned around.

Once you see that a criticism is not a personal attack, it becomes a welcome guest.

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More recently, I had a paper accepted ‘No revisions required’. I was worried. I wanted feedback, I wanted changes made, I wanted other people to weigh in on my work and check for anything I may have missed. This is because I knew it would be a stronger paper having been ripped apart and then put back together again….made better.

Everything I have ever done has always been made better when others have offered their ‘fresh eyed’ feedback. Here are my top tips for making the most out of feedback.

  • Welcome and invite it
  • Listen to it, consider it and evaluate it
  • Let down your defenses (It is not an attack – people want to help)
  • Feedback on your feedback – Tell them how it was used
  • Actively search for those who can offer a ‘fresh eyed’ perspective on your project
  • Never attack those who offer you valuable feedback (They will avoid doing it again!)
  • Know that it is OK not to be perfect, you cannot do everything all of the time
  • Avoid blinkered approaches like ‘I know what is best’ & ‘Nothing can be wrong because I worked so hard for it not to be’.
  • Offer your own feedback to others – It will not only help them, but it will make you feel good and contribute toward the collective goal!

We all want to be the best we can be. We need to role-model and make things better for everyone. We need to lift each other up with support and praise.

Let go of your defenses and welcome new opportunities for success.

Free stock photo of typography, school, training, board

Until next time, look after yourselves and each other 💙💜💚

 

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Why Midwifery and Nursing Students Should Publish their Work and How

Both midwifery and nursing students do wonderful work. Here, I am referring to ‘the student’ as any nurse or midwife who is currently enrolled in a postgraduate course, as well as those aspiring to be and working towards becoming nurses and/or midwives.

Students have a unique perspective on things, which those in academia or teaching may not be privy to. As such, any contribution from the student groups is a valuable one.

I generally hold the belief that if you are doing something worthwhile, you should share it. Throughout your student journey, you are learning things which generally, other people know about. However, when you are doing your literature review/thesis or dissertation, you are (or should be) contributing to new knowledge.

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Students often say to me “I have never published before, and I am ‘only’ a student”…. Never think that your contributions hold no value. No doubt they will be valuable to the whole midwifery community, because your insights invariably are.

Also….we need more midwives and nurses to join the academic community!

Nobody can know everything, and nobody can conduct all of the literature reviews that need to be done (and these are always of great value to the nursing and midwifery communities as a whole)! As such, your new and original contributions are highly valuable. You also worked really hard on them!

So…Why not share your work through publication?…How will your new knowledge ever be widely shared among those looking to discover new knowledge and learn if you don’t?

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So how can I publish my work?

Firstly, what do academic journals publish?

  • Opinion pieces
  • Literature reviews
  • Summary papers
  • Original research projects

These are the most common things that journals publish, and also the most likely things you will be working on. So think about how your work stands out, how is it original? If it is similar to another paper…are you building on what has previously been found? Try to look on Google Scholar initially to see what has already been published in your area of interest.

You should be referencing widely as a student (Not Heat Magazine, but high quality papers!)…Look at your reference lists – what have these authors published? in which journals? This activity may guide you to the kind of thing you might want to publish and where.

COLLABORATE – Ask one of your tutors or another academic midwife in a similar field to co-author a paper with you. This may mean that you can gain some valuable mentorship from another nurse/midwife, and also strengthen your paper with new ideas and a ‘fresh eyes’ approach. They may also have published papers before, and so can guide you in the right direction.

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Where should I publish my work?

As you may be fairly early on in your quest to journey down the publishing path… you may want to begin with some widely read and frequently published journals such as:

  • The British Journal of Midwifery
  • The Nursing Times
  • Midirs
  • The British Journal of Nursing
  • The practising midwife
  • The Nursing Standard

However, you may also want to aim for more international journals, and publish elsewhere. This website is very good at helping you to find the right journal for your paper.

The journal Impact Factor is the average number of times articles from the journal published in the past two years have been cited in the JCR year. The Impact Factor is calculated by dividing the number of citations in the JCR year by the total number of articles published in the two previous years.

Journal Rank (SJR indicator) is a measure of scientific influence of scholarly journals that accounts for both the number of citations received by a journal and the importance or prestige of the journals where such citations come from.

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Once you find the journal you would like to publish in…read their own explanation of what they want to publish – they will often say what they are looking for, or have a call for a specific research topic they have coming up. This may mean that you could contribute towards a special journal issue on a shared topic/theme.

Check out what they have published over the last few months… does it resemble the kind of paper you are trying to publish? Could you model your own paper to emulate the kind of things that are already being published..makes sense right?

Then…. When we have read our paper many times over with ‘fresh eyes’, we make our final edits in partnership with our co-authors….and submit!..

But what’s the process for doing this?

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In my experience, the journey from submission to publication usually takes around 3-4 months (Make sure to submit any revisions ASAP)!

I’m Published….what now?

Let the world know! – Share share share! This was the whole reason you published your work… so that others could read and learn about what you found. Your paper is important!…People will want to read it. Blog about it, share it via social media and email it to your professional colleagues. See my advice on using social media here.

You are looking for impact. Once you are published, you may want to track your Altmetrics score. Remember to add the paper to Linkedin, Research gate and academia.edu where people can find your work more easily…

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The publishing journey is certainly an emotional and professional roller coaster where rejections can wound and successes can be truly empowering! Try to enjoy the peer review process as a positive thing. Any criticism and reflection will only make your paper better in the long run – don’t despair…it is rare to get papers accepted for publication without any revisions at all!

But here is proof that other students are doing it!….(see below)

 It will all be worth it in the end I promise!…and if its not worth it…then its not the end..Good Luck!

If you would like to follow the progress of my work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤

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Feeling a Little Tense? A guide for Student Midwives and Student Nurses on Grammatical Writing Styles – Essay Tips

 

There are a few questions I get asked by students on ‘The Grammatical Person…’

  • Which tense should I write in?
  • Should I write in the first person?
  • How do I get an A grade in my student essay?

So I thought I would write a short blog on this topic – I hope it may be of help to some people. However, I do not claim to be a grammatical ninja…so please do consult with your own tutors and refer to your own university guidelines and learning outcomes for a more personalised approach.

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The Basics

Who is speaking in your essay? If it is an informal reflection, a diary or a blog, it will generally be your voice that we want to hear (first person). Speaking in the second person voice usually works well for advertising or promotional materials, however, it rarely becomes a feature in academia. Writing in the third person is usually the most scientific way of writing things… and so

  • the person speaking (first person)
  • the person listening or being spoken to (second person)
  • the person being spoken about (third person)
First Person

 

Subjective Case Objective Case Possessive Case
I, we Me, us My/mine/our/ours
Second Person you you You/yours
Third person (Singular) he (masculine)

she (feminine)

it (neuter)

him (masculine)

her (feminine)

it (neuter)

his/his (masculine)

her/hers (feminine)

its/its (neuter)

Third person (plural) They Them Their/theirs/his/hers

There are four present tense forms in English:

Tense Form
Present simple: I work
Present continuous: I am working
Present perfect: I have worked
Present perfect continuous: I have been working

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So what about the student midwife’s or student nurse’s essay?

Well..Think of your essay/thesis/dissertation/research as a person/thing.

What is it going to do? What has it done? What is it doing?

Examples:

Introduction – “This essay will describe and explore the various factors relating to the experience of women during the postnatal period”

Background – “The literature suggests that new mothers find it hard to bond with their babies where they experience a lack of compassion from those around them (references)”

Methodology – “This research firstly looked to explore the literature in relation to wound healing in diabetics. It did this by ….”

Results – “The research data collected within this research via a series of qualitative interviews highlights that midwives feel better able to communicate with doctors if the doctors are nice to them. These midwives also became better practitioners as they communicated with each other more effectively”

Discussion – “It is interesting to note that the results presented within this research suggest that home birth is a less safe option for childbearing women, as many of these studies fail to look at home birth in the wider context and only focus upon…”

Conclusion – “This dissertation has outlined 32 interventions which assist medication adherence in patient groups who are reported to experience symptoms of poor mental health.”

Reflection – “Throughout the process of writing this essay, I found it refreshing to discover how I could enhance my critical thinking by synthesizing the results of my research in line with the findings presented. As a nurse, I have previously only tried to interpret the literature thematically, and so in taking this new approach, I have now been able to develop my skills.”

Do you see?… as the essay progresses…so does the past and present tense. Additionally, the research/essay/dissertation remains to be a separate entity from the writer. This is how most scientific papers are written. Only within the reflective section has the writer referred to themselves (this may be required for some essays, but generally not in scientific papers).

 

Lastly:

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I hope this will help some students to clarify how they would like to present their work.

See my 15 Top Essay Writing Tips for Midwifery and Nursing Students here

Also…

See my guide to literature reviewing here

Until next time – Look after yourselves and each other 💛💙💜💚

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Masterclass: 10 Top Tips for Winning a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) fellowship award

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This week, I have been engaging with National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funders, in a ‘bid’ to learn more about the fellowships currently available to researchers. This masterclass was held at @unibirmingham, and it really was a great opportunity to speak to the funders and get some sound advice on how and what to apply for. In this blog I will share 10 top tips which have been formulated as a result of attending this masterclass. I hope this may help other applicants (like myself) to maximise their chance of success.

  1. Firstly, know which type of award is best for you and your future plans and ideas. I will be applying for a post-doctoral fellowship as an early career researcher.

 

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2. Contact the Research Design Service early…talk through your ideas, take advice and learn all you can. This service can point you towards other team members, experts to talk to and new ways of thinking. They can be involved at every stage of your application and they really do give great feedback.

3. Once you have the basics of your project together, think about designing the right team. If you are planning at RCT for instance, who is on your team who can help you with that? Do they have the right expertise? Seek out the right mentors, collaborate outside of your institution, start building relationships with people who you can work with throughout your fellowship (and hopefully throughout your career)! The NIHR want to see that you will be well supported to succeed.

 

What are the chances of success?

Competition is fierce! – Make sure you stand out!

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4. Make your application logical, clear and really show that you can demonstrate the impact and trajectory of your research. How will you disseminate your research (other than papers and social media) – Could you make a film? Hold a dissemination event? Additionally, make sure you answer every section in detail and check your application against the current guidance materials.

See full and official NIHR guidance here

5. Set out your own personal career goals and create a comprehensive training plan. This is where most applications fail. This is not just a list of courses you will take. This is about who will mentor you, where you will learn, can you arrange a secondment? Work experience? International conferences? – How will you grow and develop into an independent researcher? – Why should they invest in you as a person?

 

 

6. How will you involve patients, end users and the public in your research? Patient and public involvement (PPI) will form a key component within your application, and should feature throughout your research plans. Involve is a great place to start. You can apply for a small £500 grant to carry out PPI activities before submitting your fellowship application, ask your regional RDS service for more details, and be sure to include the results of these activities within your application!

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7.What if you get called for an interview? Make sure you know your application inside out (it may be a long time since you submitted your application – and you may be asked some really complex questions by people who are not experts in your field!)

 

 

8. Be sure to have mock interviews with your peers (they will be much harder on you than the interview panel). Challenge yourself, be willing to change your ideas in response to feedback. Embrace every opportunity to improve!

9. Be yourself. Yes you will be nervous, but the panel wants to see who they are investing in. Its OK to show personality and be ambitious. They want to invest in new talent, the research stars of the future. Show them your potential. Don’t be afraid to take criticism – engage in constructive dialogue throughout, yet leave the panel with a punchy take away message where they can see your potential and future trajectories.

10. Be on time – don’t miss deadlines, arrive early to the interview and be ready to showcase yourself and your ideas. The NIHR want to fund you…they want to spend tax payers money wisely. Leave them in no doubt that both you, and your project are worth it. You are the future the world needs to see!

 

See full and official NIHR guidance here

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Until next time, look after yourselves & each other..💜

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Maximising your academic potential via social media

This is just a short blog post to say that I will be hosting a seminar on …

Maximising your academic potential via social media this week at @covcampus

Many people have said they would like to come… but cannot attend on this occasion…..

As such, I will be publishing this seminar in a series of blog posts designed for academics looking to maximise their potential via social media – Hope this helps 🙂

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