Networking is a key skill required for all health practitioners and teams to ensure that patients and clients experience joined up services and care plans. You should ask to spend time with key disciplines and organisations which you will work with as part of your role induction.
It is essential that you get experience of networking out with your team and gain insight into how other multi-professional teams work within the NHS. This helps to keep you up-to date with developments and informs you about different ways of working through sharing practice. This also provides a platform for you to discuss aspects of your work. For example you may have a particular interest in Learning Disability, Mental Health or Paediatrics that you want to explore or develop.
Identify useful websites which could help you to network professionally. This type of professional networking can help you share your practice and identify the best evidence to support your practice.
Ask your mentor or colleagues about local networks or interest groups or look for a group that focuses on your clinical interest, or if they know of useful websites which could help you to network professionally.
Here are a couple of examples to get you started:
Read the indicated part of the Cochrane review referenced below and identify the issues that you recognise from your work and what is said about them.
You should focus on the results and discussion pages, and can read more if you are particularly interested. These are pages 7-10 of the PDF which are numbered pages 5-8 in the document.
Zwarenstein M; Goldman, J; Reeves S. (2009). Interprofessional collaboration: effects of practice-based interventions on professional practice and healthcare outcomes. Cochrane Library.
Looking at service improvements
Moving on from the 'Interprofessional Collaboration' activity where you looked at a change you have identified to improve services for the people you provide care for, this activity focuses on a change that has already taken place in your work setting.
In your work setting Identify a service improvement that has been made in your work area recently. Ask:
- what change was made?
- why was change made?
- who initiated the change?
- which team members were involved?
- what happened?
- how did this improve things for the people you provide care for?
- how was the change measured?
As you become more aware of the potential for joint working, partnership arrangements and more widespread multi-professional working within the NHS, it is important that you can identify the advantages of networking within and between professions. Identify some resources or articles that explore networking by using The Knowledge Network (Home page search box) or Evidence into Practice search facility using the key words:
Network OR Collaboration
Your area of interest e.g. mental health, learning disability.
E-networks to support professional development
E-networks open up fantastic opportunities to liaise locally, nationally and internationally. Search your professional body, the Knowledge Network Communities page or the internet for an e-network within your profession or area of clinical practice/ special interest.
Here is a selection to get you started. Remember to add useful sites to the favourites on your computer or record them in another way that will be useful to you, and to share new information with team colleagues and your peers
The Knowledge Network has a wide range of communities of practice. There may be one you could join that focuses on your area of interest.
- Association of Chartered Physiotherapists or Orthopaedic Medicine
- Gerontology Nursing
- International Association of Paediatric Nursing
- Macmillan Cancer Relief
- National Network for Learning Disability Nurses
- Royal College of Nursing - publications on various topics (some are for members only) and a discussion zone (members only)
- World Health Organisation - Health Topics
Networks to support Clinical Improvement
From the last activity where you have located a suitable network, demonstrate applying what you have learned to inform your practice, this will provide evidence for NHS KSF Dimension Core 5 - Quality.
For example, you may have come across new evidence, a different way of delivering a service. A national best practice statement may have been revised or introduced which is relevant to what you do. Share what you have found with your team.
Whatever you have learned from your network, demonstrate the impact on your clinical practice and discuss with your mentor. There is no doubt that your up-to-date knowledge will benefit others. Good places to share this information are at team meetings and journal club sessions, or you can share information with your peers and other colleagues. .
Discuss what you have found with the team or group and find out what each member thinks about it and what that they could do to help this be put into place.
Consider any useful networks you have found, and whether these could be of interest to other newly qualified practitioners. Share these through networking with colleagues. Equally, if you haven't managed to find a network for your area of interest, you can ask your colleagues if they know of one, or discuss your area of interest using social networking sites.
Portfolio Activity - Networks
To conclude this sub-section, reflect upon the learning that you have achieved; the e-networking facilities that you have found that are appropriate to your area of interest and in your discussions with your team and your mentor in relation to networking.
Record specific aspects of learning that you feel are particularly important and any goals you have set to develop this aspect of your practice within your portfolio.
Consider whether you have gathered sufficient evidence to meet the demands of your NHS KSF post outline at Foundation level and discuss this with your manager.