Nurses' Day 2022: Advanced nurse practitioner Kirstie Yelland

Standing in an operating theatre surrounded by giggling staff at Royal Liverpool Hospital on her first day as a young nursing student, it was a slightly inauspicious start for Kirstie Yelland.

“I was sent there to collect a Mr Hugh Jarse from having a ‘headectomy’. I didn’t catch on till I got there and they were all in stitches,” explains Kirstie.

Despite this little hiccup, Kirstie got through her training and took on her first post in a hectic A&E department at the hospital in Liverpool. There is no question that seeing such a variety of patients with a plethora of medical presentations was invaluable experience.

“It’s the busiest emergency department in the country. It was bonkers, but really set me up for my career. Anything after that didn’t seem such a big deal,” she says.

Following 15 years of nursing posts in A&E, as an agency nurse and at walk-in centres and MIUs, Kirstie qualified as an advanced nurse practitioner (ANP) around six years ago. The diagnostic and prescribing responsibilities she now has are complemented by her previous experience. The relationship between nurse and patient can have a different dynamic from, say, a doctor.

“It’s intimate care. You’ve washed patients and get to know them on a different level and know what they need and want. It’s made me use a holistic framework, having seen patients when they are at they are most vulnerable and requiring the most basic needs,” she says.

Throughout the pandemic healthcare workers have shown remarkable resilience in the face of great pressure. Kirstie describes the qualities nurses needed to thrive in the circumstances: “You need empathy, tenacity, flexibility, a holistic attitude, advocacy (for patients), and the ability to think outside the box while being faced with unclear, complicated situations.”

These days, Kirstie spends the majority of her work-time at home in Torquay triaging patients for ambulance revalidation, or dealing with general triage cases passed over from the NHS 111 service in-hours. She likens the process of assessing patient’s needs to being a detective, eliciting information to get to the root cause of issues.

“I really love talking to people. People are often in crisis mentally or physically. I enjoy just being able to get alongside them and find what’s going to work best for their situation,” she says.

Working from home, means she can maximise the number of hours she works, while still being able to do the school run with her son. Time gained from avoiding an arduous commute into Exeter means that she has some time before collecting him in the afternoon.

“I like being able to make myself a cup of tea and sing a song, now and then, between patients!” jokes Kirstie, who still likes to work in treatment centres from time to time when circumstances allow.

Before she ever became a nurse, Kirstie was intrigued by clinical psychology. “I take a special interest in the subject and the pandemic has intensified it,” she says, which is understandable following the pressure the last two years have put on everyone’s mental health. Likewise, she is looking to develop her knowledge in palliative care, which is a part of her practice she is very keen to strengthen.

Meanwhile, away from work it’s important to let your hair down from time to time and Kirstie, who has a passion for roller skating, will be strutting her stuff at a roller disco this weekend! At other times she can be found playing jazz piano, or out on the water paddle boarding and sailing (pictured).

Everyone at Devon Doctors Group would like to thank Kirstie and all the nurses that work for us, as well all those we collaborate with. Here’s hoping she doesn’t refer any patients for ‘headectomies’!