Family affair at Blackpool Victoria
Son follows father’s footsteps into emergency department nursing
Nursing certainly runs in the blood for one local family after a son followed in his dad’s footsteps to become an emergency department nurse at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
The duo work side by side treating patients in accident and emergency after both studying at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).
Peter McKiernan graduated from the University last December with a master’s degree in advanced professional practice, only months after his son Connor also graduated from UCLan with a degree in nursing.
"I’m proud of Connor choosing this sometimes difficult but very rewarding career path. "— UCLan advanced professional practice graduate and advanced clinical practitioner Peter McKiernan
Peter, 52, said: “I’m proud of Connor choosing this sometimes difficult but very rewarding career path. We have a very professional relationship at work, though I’ve had to get used to Connor calling me Peter and not dad!”
Connor, 26, from Lytham, took a five-year break from education before coming to UCLan and gaining a first-class degree.
He said: “I’ve seen the determination and aspirations my dad has and the drive to always better himself and I want a piece of that success.
“He’s always been a big inspiration to me, having gone from so little to achieving so much. Having my dad there with all his experiences and knowledge has helped me better myself not just as a health care professional but as an individual. I’m also aiming to return to UCLan to gain a master’s in advanced professional practice and continue my journey in the emergency department.”
"Having my dad there with all his experiences and knowledge has helped me better myself not just as a health care professional but as an individual."— UCLan nursing graduate and staff nurse at Blackpool Victoria Connor McKiernan
Peter’s relationship with UCLan and Blackpool Victoria goes back 12 years to when Peter made a life-changing decision to leave a career in car sales to work in healthcare.
First working as a healthcare assistant on the respiratory ward before moving to the emergency department, Peter went onto study the healthcare assistant practitioner foundation degree at UCLan in 2010 and returned four years later to complete the BSc Pre-registration Registered Nurse. Peter’s UCLan journey continued when he returned to the University in 2019 to further develop his career, successfully completing the MSc Advanced Professional Practice to qualify as an advanced clinical practitioner (ACP).
He said: “I was working a senior charge nurse and had taken this route as far as I could. Working as an ACP means more patient contact and that’s what I really enjoy. It’s a job with a lot of responsibility but brings a lot of job satisfaction.”
Peter also met his partner, fellow UCLan graduate Jade Johnson, whilst working at Blackpool Victoria. She also worked as a healthcare assistant at the hospital before training to be a nurse at UCLan and then returning to complete a specialist postgraduate qualification in intensive care nursing, graduating in the same ceremony as Peter last December.
"The Blackpool Victoria Hospital staff have always felt like a family. Being lucky enough to have Pete and Connor at work just adds to that. "— UCLan graduate and intensive care nurse Jade Johnson
Jade is now studying to become an ACP and is due to qualify in 2023. She said: “Studying alongside Pete has been great as we both see things from different perspectives and are able to bounce ideas off each other.
“The Blackpool Victoria Hospital staff have always felt like a family. Being lucky enough to have Pete and Connor at work just adds to that. If I have a bad day, I know that Pete and Connor can relate and understand what I’ve been through. Seeing Connor graduate and grow as a nurse and follow his dad has been great to watch, and I’m very proud of both of them.”
Peter is now enjoying his new role as an ACP and can be credited with introducing an opt-out HIV screening programme in Blackpool Victoria’s emergency department to help reduce the number of people living with undiagnosed HIV in the community.
"I’ve had letters from people saying I’ve saved their lives so when I sit back and think about it, I feel like I’ve achieved a lot. "— UCLan advanced professional practice graduate and advanced clinical practitioner Peter McKiernan
It was an initiative that began as part of Peter’s master’s degree, after he discovered that Blackpool has the second highest HIV rates per 1,000 people in the North West of England. It has since attracted funding from the Terrance Higgins Trust and Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Peter added: “I’ve had letters from people saying I’ve saved their lives so when I sit back and think about it, I feel like I’ve achieved a lot.
“I’m certainly a better person now than I was 12 years ago and feel like I make a positive difference to people’s lives. Having a partner and a son who work in the same area means we can support each other during the hard times and understand what each other is going through.”