University of Cumbria student nurse makes a difference by "ruffling feathers" and advocating for patients

University of Cumbria student nurse makes a difference by "ruffling feathers" and advocating for patients

Inspired to Make a Difference 

Josh Gilroy’s nursing story began after witnessing the experience of his grandfather. From receiving mixed treatment as a victim of the MRSA epidemic and battling comorbidities; to receiving an amputation after an infection, his grandfather’s story inspired Josh to honour the life of this "fantastic man" by training to become a nurse. After his sad passing, halfway through Josh’s first undergraduate degree, current student Josh decided to requalify as a nurse with a mission to deliver quality care and become a difference-making health care professional.

Becoming a patient advocate

Although relatively new terminology, advocacy in nursing stretches back to the work of Florence Nightingale. Nicola Davies for Independent Nursing defines advocacy as the nursing practice that "ensures that the needs, rights, and wishes of vulnerable individuals are heard and safeguarded." She proposes that "health advocacy extends beyond mere support, compassion and empathy to champion social justice and health equity in every aspect of patient life, including social, political, behavioural, cultural, biological and environmental contexts." (Davies, 2021)

Passionate about utilising the theoretical learning from his training to make a real-world impact; Josh believes that “if you know what you are talking about and you have the evidence to back it up, you will be a powerful patient advocate to be reckoned with.” His commitment to advocating for the needs and interests of patients has come to define his practice, describing himself as a “constructively disruptive nurse” dedicated to providing care that goes above and beyond. Indeed, whilst on placement, Josh was responsible for identifying chest sounds associated with pulmonary effusion in a patient, resulting in a life-saving diagnosis of pulmonary embolism.

Nursing at the University of Cumbria

Josh credits the University of Cumbria for equipping him with the skills needed to fulfil his goals. “The university supplied us with core skills and knowledge to apply the evidence base to my practice.” They described being able to “experience the complexities of rural medicine” and gain experience in specialist disciplines whilst part of one of our intimate teaching cohorts based in the heart of the northwest. Whilst training, the University of Cumbria has provided Josh with the support to reach his full potential: “I do feel supported always, and I know my tutor and lecturers will always help whenever we need it.” In addition to his passion for practical experience, Josh relished the opportunity to analyse healthcare through a societal lens, “specifically the assignment where I was able to analyse the public health of a specific geographic area.”

What's Next?

Josh’s drive to make a difference has led them into a role as an elected representative in the Royal College of Nursing. Within this position, Josh has passionately acted as “a true voice for Cumbria in the North West” as well as communicating the reality of life as a student nurse. Having made an impact before he's even graduated, Josh is looking forward to starting his professional career as a Community Staff Nurse and has promised to continue “ruffling feathers” as an active participant in the Royal College of Nursing.

What else is in the future for this student nurse?“ You never know; I might be back for some Postgraduate study!” We certainly hope so, Josh!

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