Over the past 21 years the MS Trust has provided foundation training and continuing support and development to around 600 MS nurses. Together they have gone on to help thousands of people with MS across the UK. Last year Verity Duff from North Northamptonshire came on our foundation course for new MS nurses. We caught up with her to find out about her first year as an MS nurse, and the difference our support has made to her work
How has your first year as an MS nurse been?
It’s still all very new to me! Before this role I thought I knew quite a lot about MS, but when you come into any specialist post you quickly realise actually you don’t!
How did you find the MS Trust foundation course?
It’s a very intense week, but it was fantastic and the speakers were great. It started with a lot of neuro-physiology, which I wasn’t confident on, but I soon felt a lot more knowledgeable. We also studied managing MS symptoms, managing relapses, self-management techniques, managing pain, disease modifying drugs, and much more.
Is it useful to talk to other new MS nurses?
It was a really good group, very interactive and not afraid to share experiences and ask questions. There were nurses from all across the UK. It was very interesting to see how different practices are, how different people work, what different services are available, and to share ideas.
What did you take away from the course at the time?
My mind was full of new things, as was my notebook! I was keen to get back and share what I had learned with the people with MS I see. I also had the contact details of the rest of the group – it’s so valuable to have that. Also one of my personal goals was to be more structured with my clinical assessments and work with people to help them manage their MS.
One year on, how have you put what you’ve learned into practice?
I think one of the biggest things in the last 12 months has been growing my confidence! The MS Trust foundation course provided a platform which I have been able to build upon through continued reading, attending MS Trust courses, conferences and seminars. But most important has been the experience I’ve gained through working with patients and colleagues within our MS team.
I feel much more equipped to support my patients through their MS. This last 12 months has been quite phenomenal, not only in my learning but in other opportunities to develop my work.
Beyond the course, how does the MS Trust help you make a difference for people with MS?
Personally I find the MS Trust website a fantastic source of information. I have subscribed to Open Door, and signed up to the MS news email which alerts you to the latest developments in MS and MS services. The website also has an A-Z which contains loads of information about symptoms, medication, management, services and anything you could possibly imagine relating to MS. This resource is invaluable to health professionals and patients alike.
What’s the biggest satisfaction you get from your work?
The day-to-day work is where I get most satisfaction. Helping people to manage their MS is key to improving their quality of life. I love running my own clinics as this allows me to help my patients make decisions that work for them. I enjoy offering different techniques and ideas to help each person manage their symptoms. We regularly ask our service users to complete questionnaires, and we get a lot of positive feedback, so hopefully we are doing things right.