Freshman committee member!!

A reflection by Sarah Bashford.

It was amid a fair bit of chaos in my private life that I moved to Southampton. I have lived in the Midlands all my life aside from 3 years in London for my Nurse training. London had however made me fairly adaptable when it came to moving (I had a new flat every 6 months with ever changing placements!!) and I have always been a fairly cheerful and outgoing person.

So here I was in the South. New area, New home, new man, new Job.

I don’t do things by halves me!

I settled in nicely and found the south to be quite a welcoming place. My private life settled and low and behold one of my new friends (and a colleague...and a senior...) asks me if I would like to attend the BACCN Wessex region AGM.

Why not?

I had given a lecture on the importance of oral care at one of their evening sessions in the midlands not long after I moved so I was fairly familiar with the BACCN and its goals. (I had however never been a member and used to steal...sorry...borrow other people’s journals to read.)

It became apparent 2 weeks before the meeting that Heather (my friend, Colleague and Chair of the Wessex committee) had plans to nominate me as a new committee member during said meeting.

Joining the BACCN then kind of became a necessity (apparently when you get older you’re supposed to lead by example...)

The meeting arrived.

I was nominated.

Then seconded (by another of my colleagues who I discovered to be the Wessex secretary.)

And so it began.

I had never been on a committee before in my life. I had no idea what my responsibilities would be or what my expectations were. But here I was, with several people I didn’t know and 2 people I had worked with for about a year.

We are a small committee with a need to grow (hence this reflection) so there was initially some overlap in the roles and responsibilities and so I though maybe in the absence of a manual, which was actually provided, but didn’t give me a step by step process or flow chart to follow (yes I know How Rude!) I thought I should just try and fill in the gaps and maybe absorb some of the overspill (a bit like an inco pad!)

The first few meetings I attended involved largely listening to everyone else talk about their actions and plans and piping up to express the occasional opinion (anyone who really knows me will know I am never short of an opinion.)

But genuinely that was really all I did for the first 3 months.

But those 3 months were actually me getting a feel for the group dynamic, the role differentiation and the responsibilities we all had to fulfil.

In the lead up to my first study day as a committee member I simply began hoarding business cards from every rep I came into contact with. I began e mailing them, asking them if they would like to attend our sessions and demonstrate their products, with no idea if I was doing it right or wrong and always feeling that little bit awkward as I typed ‘all the above will cost you just...’

But I received replies.

Positive replies.

And before I knew it I had been deemed a success in Industry Liaison.

That became my role and I slotted quite nicely into both the role and the committee.

And when I wasn’t sure about something, everyone was really supportive.

We are a diverse group, we often see things in different ways but I have found that being a committee member involves taking those different views and pulling out all the best bits.
We as nurses are working in a world where our professional development and education is restricted by economics and the way I see it, the BACCN is a small way to try and maintain standards in nursing and provide education for nurses who are struggling otherwise.

At the end of the study day that I had helped organise, when we were reading all the positive evaluations I realised that all of those e mails that I had trawled through, typing, replying and asking over and over again, were all worth it.

It has been a very challenging and yet greatly satisfying role.

It is important to be sensible with your time as whilst it is a commitment, it is also voluntary so there are times when a day off work must be a day off work.

But I have met some great folks and had some giggles.

One thing is for sure, whilst daunting to begin with, it is definitely fun and at the study days....there’s cake....what more can I say!!

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