My aims for the scholarship were to learn more about myself through the in-depth personal assessment of leadership capabilities in order to more competently fulfil my current role. I hoped that I would be inspired to set more specific long term career goals. I was incredibly conscious that I had worked within the specialist field of Teenagers and Young Adults (TYA) with Cancer for the majority of my career, so I saw the scholarship as an opportunity to step outside the care setting I was familiar with.
‘Emerging’ alongside others I hoped would share my enthusiasm and passion for nursing and high standards of care was also very appealing as I have always enjoyed developing and exploring new challenges in the company of others, learning with, from and about each other. In short, I was searching for help, guidance and support from a variety of sources within the scholarship process to be a better version of myself.
I approached the scholarship and the opportunities it presented as a chance to step into the unknown and to explore aspects of health care and leadership that I knew little or nothing about. Through the core elements of the scholarship I underwent an in depth leadership assessment and in a supportive environment began to consider this new found knowledge in relation to my 360 report. I began to increase my own personal self-awareness and understand my sphere of influence with more clarity.
The RADA in business training was transformational. The practical tools, physical and vocal awareness training encouraged me to consciously practice being an authentic version of myself. My new found knowledge has bolstered my self-belief and assisted me in beginning to manage my internal critic. This led me to the House of Colour sessions. These consisted of practical guidance around the right colours and style of clothes to wear, in line with your body shape, personality and character. Clearer understanding of external presentation and how this can impact others judgements has been exceptionally invaluable. Dressing with confidence has worked in congruence with my internal efforts of self-improvement.
I have been empowered through the scholarship to make more direct approaches to others for advice, guidance and learning. By pushing on these doors my understanding of both health care and third sector, politics, power and influence has hugely increased. This new found comprehension has opened my eyes to the importance of understanding the context of my leadership, that of my service and how best to successfully address changes.
Time spent reflecting on what it means to nurse, considering the essence of my vocation, and identifying my own internal values has enhanced my understanding of my personal and professional motivations for high standards of care delivery. I am developing a courage to try and fail, be honest about my mistakes and see this as a positive opportunity for development. This, in partnership with inspirational examples of leadership experienced through the scholarship has created an emerging professional integrity.
One of the biggest impacts on my learning has been my scholarly peer group. The friendship, support and universal ‘can do’ positivity has been invaluable. I have felt exceptionally safe and encouraged by the relationships and network they provide. The constant source of joy, humility and shared experience has defined us as a group. We have inspired each other as ‘bright spots’ to move on with confidence, integrity and to light up the metaphorical dark corners of nursing that we find in our day to day practice.
The relationship with my Mentor has been a highlight of my scholarship as there was an emotional and theoretical connection from the outset. Together we approached the relationship with a willingness to commit to the situation, however despite this personal awareness we were both surprised by the depth of the shared journey. Through a critical companionship there was transformational learning. My reflexive skills have grown through the support of this relationship, supplemented by the coaching sessions I accessed. Within the report I use the process of reflection and my mentor relationship to demonstrate my personal development.
Travelling to Romania was both a personal and professional challenge and an inspirational adventure. Hosted by the Romanian charity ‘LittlePeople’ my aims were to see TYA cancer care in a different health setting and country, to meet with the multidisciplinary teams providing cancer care, and to spend time with a charity whose aims were similar to Teenage Cancer Trust. I went the week before Christmas to observe a survivorship event and celebratory Gala evening. I tried hard to understand the context in which care was delivered, from a political, socioeconomic and health care service perspective. I acknowledge that this is very complex and that I might have inadvertently misunderstood or naively interpreted something in my busy schedule. However, I was able to drawn comparisons between the two countries care settings, was inspired and moved by the dignity and passion of the people I met. In this report I used this trip to explore my developing practice as a leader.
My patient care improvement project was the implementation of RCN approved TYA Nursing competences and career framework with a small number of colleagues across both the adult and paediatric settings. The project was concurrently evaluated by Professor Jane Coad. The framework defines a distinct nursing speciality that I am passion about. Nurses consented to take part and were then assigned a senior TYA colleague to support them in the development of individual practices. Challenges to the implementation process included perceptions of the word competence, attitudes to self-investment and some practical elements around the use of the document.
My eternal gratitude to Liz Robb and the Florence Nightingale Foundation for seeing potential in me. To Teenage Cancer Trust for funding my Scholarship, in particular Sam Smith for her professional leadership. To Dee Sissons, my mentor for her wise council, encouragement and critical companionship. To Katie Rizvi and the LittlePeople charity who are inspirational and have much to share with the wider TYA Specialist community. To Maria Cable, Coventry University, for her professional wisdom and friendship. To Professor Jane Coad for her research knowledge and guidance. To colleagues at University Hospitals Birmingham, Philip Norman, Hayley Flavell and Emma Steele for their nursing leadership insight and the wonderful TYA Service and YPU ward team. My family. Every professional success is down to you. I couldn’t achieve anything without your support and love.
Finally, all the young people with cancer that have inspired & challenged me with their thoughts, attitudes, actions and approaches in facing a life changing diagnosis. You all deserve the very best that can be provided to you and your loved ones.
Thank you for helping me on my continuing journey to be a better version of myself.