The Florence Nightingale Emerging Leadership Scholarship has been a fantastic opportunity for me to learn, focus and develop on both my clinical area and my career.
My line manager identified the need for me to attend a leadership course to further my abilities within my role but I felt that some of the ‘in-house’ leadership courses were too generic and not specific to my individual needs.
My reasons for applying for a Florence Nightingale Scholarship was to be able to develop as a leader, to have a bespoke course designed to meet my needs so that I was then able to lead more effectively, and have a clearer plan of what it is that I wanted to achieve and to develop.
The initial learning including the personality typing has without doubt changed the way that I look at all situations, how I react, approach and deal with all areas within my personal and professional life.
I wanted to learn about myself as a person, as a manager and as a nurse, to be able to look at where I needed to develop, what I did well and how I could make that better and what I needed to work on to achieve the goals that I would like to aspire to in my career going forward.
I have focussed my learning mainly on personal development as I felt that this was the way that myself and my clinical area could benefit the most from this bespoke programme of learning.
My project was aimed at improving patient safety, set out against a recommendation from a learning experience within my area.
I aimed to improve the assessment process for out of hours admissions for patients within my clinical area, by developing a triage assessment tool specific to Paediatric Oncology/Haematology, the aim being to have a tool with indicators triggering responses based on clinical signs and symptoms for this patient set.
The tool has been introduced locally within my clinical area but with a view to have it used and evaluated in paediatric oncology/haematology areas nationally also.
I hope to present this work at conferences in the future to have not only national opinion but also to show the work internationally as well.
The scholarship has enabled me to look at all aspects of my development. This Scholarship has offered me the skills to be able to look at how I lead, how I can improve, and to encourage me to look further afield rather than just in my own area, to help not only my own development, but the progression of the unit and speciality that I work in.
The opportunity to attend a Personal Presence workshop run by RADA was hugely influential in identifying my weaknesses when it came to presenting and speaking in front of people who would cause me anxieties and not being able to communicate what I needed to.
I attended a personal impact course also run by the ‘Impact Factory’, although this touched on RADA techniques., it gave me a distinctly different outlook on presence and impact with excellent facilitation and follow up contact since the course has finished.
I visited Teenage Cancer Trust Head Office in London. I took the opportunity to make contact with Siobhan Dunn, Chief Executive of Teenage Cancer Trust to talk to her about what it’s like to be someone who leads a national charity. The confidence that I had gained meant I felt that I could do this, to engage with people in such a ‘lofty’ position that previously I would not even dream of asking to meet as why would they? What would I have to offer? The visit was incredibly rewarding, my scholarship is funded by Teenage Cancer Trust so I wanted to show them who they were investing in and what I was going to do with my scholarship. I got a lot of advice on leadership, but I think I also left some information behind to the team that they took from the meeting. I made contacts that I have continued to use thus starting my ‘networking’ which I know the Foundation put great emphasis on, but it mainly showed me that I can contact people previously thought out of reach and that I can listen, learn and also influence at the same time.
I am building up a network of invaluable colleagues through attending the International TYA conference in Edinburgh and also the Florence Nightingale Conference recently in London. These networks will continue to aid and help me throughout my career.
The scholarship has allowed me to become more self-aware as a manager and a leader. I have been able to reflect more and be able to understand processes within the health care system that I had not been previously exposed to.
Although I did not travel out of the UK as part of my scholarship I tried to utilise my funds to best suit what I wanted from this course.
I did feel that I was in need of personal development and that this was the main focus of my year, I felt that this opportunity for leadership and development progression and learning was the most important thing to me and this would in the short and long term directly benefit the area that I work in, the staff I manage, myself and patient care.
My fellow leadership scholars have also been of great help and support. We have built a network between each other, regularly stay in touch and can genuinely offer each other help, advice and further contacts through each other’s new and existing networks given how diverse a field of nursing we all come from. This will continue and we have already met about continuing our shared learning and have discussed models that we could utilise to continue this.
I have been more active with taking learning into the student nurse training programmes for the cohorts of child branch students. I now help facilitate some of the sessions to take nurses into the university to teach some of the clinical sessions directly relating to the wards and patient care. Both the students and the tutors are feeding back and agree that this is hugely beneficial.
Although I am approaching the end of the Scholarship I feel like I am just beginning my leadership career.
I am confident that I will continue to develop, learn, inspire and teach using all of the skills acquired and more.
I cannot thank the Florence Nightingale Foundation enough for this opportunity.
Thanks also to Angela Monaghan, my mentor throughout this Scholarship and to Teenage Cancer Trust, my sponsor, for this unique learning experience.