Following the blast that ripped through Beirut port in August 2020, ICU Nurse Matilda Willow travelled from Yorkshire – where she lives and works – to Lebanon.
As part of the UK EMT, she delivered clinical coaching principally in four main hospitals around Beirut and in Saida. She tells us how her international experience has enhanced our work back in the UK.
I felt like I came back refreshed – even though I was working in Leeds, then to Lebanon, then straight back to Wakefield. I came into the pandemic in the UK with more energy, more passion, and more hope compared to people who had been working in the UK throughout the COVID-19 waves.
I came back feeling part of a global picture and with more energy to keep fighting, especially as I know any gains we make against COVID-19 here has benefits to colleagues in Lebanon and other places.
Aside from specific clinical knowledge that I picked up from my fantastic colleagues from Australia, Cuba and elsewhere, I feel like it has really shaped me as a nurse. It’s changed the way I deliver care and interact with other members of staff, particularly around aspects of bedside teaching, which was a core component of the clinical coaching that we did.
My appreciation of the importance of accountability has increased, and I would say that I now have more confidence in responding when looking at areas of practice that need to be improved.
I’ve gained a much better understanding of how healthcare works as a system – how factors such as procurement and supplies, staff morale and wages can interact and impact on care delivery and patient safety.
When we think about healthcare systems, we tend to see them as huge systems slow to change. In Lebanon, I saw how a group that is committed, purposeful, and working with the right people, and focusing on the smaller things, can make lots of small changes. You have to constantly think about how we can do things better on a deployment. I now have a more practical idea of what service improvement is and how it can work.
I think I’ve come into my new role in Wakefield with more confidence than I would have done otherwise. Because I was only in Lebanon for two months and I adapted to that, got settled in, and got things going, I’ve come into my new role thinking, ‘I can take it on and I can adapt to it quite quickly’.
Working on that shorter time frame showed me that it doesn’t take me a long time necessarily to get started with something, and I think I’ve come into this new job with a lot more energy because of it.
“Aside from specific clinical knowledge that I picked up from my fantastic colleagues from Australia, Cuba and elsewhere, I feel like it has really shaped me as a nurse.”