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Scholar's Report

Leadership Scholarship

2016/30 - Wendy Nicholson


In 2014, I had been in a national role for 4 years with the Department of Health. During the annual appraisal process I identified a desire to extend my formal leadership development. I had previously explored leadership programmes but failed to find something that would meet my needs and offer a new challenge. I was intrigued by twitter conversations with a colleague (and twitter buddy) I was having. This resulted in further ‘lurking’ on twitter and gentle probing with Florence Nightingale Foundation scholars about their experiences. 

After exhausting twitter, I investigated the Florence Nightingale Foundation scholarships on the website and almost instantaneously began the application process.  My key aims were to: 

I was struck by the fact the scholarship provides the flexibility to meet individual need and as such the programme is built by you, consequently it is designed specifically for you. This means each scholar will have a unique programme with key activities and experiences, for me this included; 

Whilst undertaking the scholarship programme my role transferred to another national organisation, as with any change initially the move was unsettling both professionally and personally. However my remit became more defined and this has provided more clarity, thus giving an opportunity to focus on what was important to me professionally. The scholarship provided the space for me to internalise and acclimatise to the change, including adaptation to the different role and organisation. This was incredibly important as in the main I would be working with the same organisations and stakeholders and tackling the same issues – children and young people, but with a slightly different slant.

I wanted to use the scholarship as an opportunity to explore my interest in emotional health and wellbeing for children and young people – using public health interventions to support resilience particularly in young people 10-14 yrs. This not only fitted with my professional portfolio but also was becoming more of a national focus and was an area of avid interest due to the work I had undertaken with young carers and military families. 

The scholarship seemed to be timely pulling together key areas of work, my challenges and opportunities to network with other nurse leadership across the system. My personal leadership programme involved being part of a new programme at Ashridge – the Leading on Purpose programme centred on mindfulness, purpose and leadership. 

Without a doubt this programme presented me with opportunities I had been seeking out for years – time to reflect, examine purpose, focus on clarity of dialogue and make sense in a climate of uncertainty. The rich learning and techniques from this programme, together with the comradery from the other delegates have indeed changed my way of thinking and being. 

The opportunity to undertake a study visit to World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva provided a fabulous opportunity to share good practice, listen to international challenges and to identify joint priorities where we could pursue mutual areas for interest and explore potential opportunities for future joint work.