Debbie Preston reflects on her first six months with FNF
As I approach the six-month point in my employment with FNF, I have taken the opportunity to reflect on my journey so far.
Getting to know my team has been a highlight (they have been amazing and I couldn’t do my role without them), as was attending my first Florence Nightingale Commemoration Service, which is an experience I will never forget. I have also had the opportunity to work with some incredible associates/leadership experts, I’ve facilitated Academy programme days and networked with some of the most inspiring nurse leaders in the UK.
Moving from the acute hospital setting to the charity sector has been an interesting learning experience. I have spent the past two years splitting my time between facilitating leadership development programmes and working clinically in critical care and respiratory high dependency units. I have always identified as a clinical leader and been the first to support in practice. Whilst I have continued to keep in touch with clinical practice and do a few bank shifts at my local COVID medicines delivery unit, moving to a non-clinical role with an academic focus has left me searching for my new identity as a nurse.
As I have begun navigating this transition, I have reflected on the previous transition points in my career: staff nurse to ECMO retrieval specialist, paediatric rotation, progression to band 6 and 7, ICU clinical sister to education. At each point I have experienced the same feelings of trepidation and let imposter syndrome make me question my decisions. I’ve also made mistakes and learned valuable lessons. I’ve utilised all the experiences and transferable skills to transition into a more experienced and well-rounded version of myself.
As a profession, we are very good at supporting these transition points in the early years of our careers. However, as we step into leadership positions and try to break through the glass ceiling and beyond frontline roles, the expectation is high and the opportunity to learn and transition in a safe environment is more limited. This is why I am so passionate about leadership development.
I want to ensure that all emerging leaders at every level have access to the support, encouragement and safe space they need to grow into their next role.
I find music a real leveller and somewhere I go to centre myself and have space to think. I found the track ‘Fearless’ from the film Spirit Untamed whilst trying to master the other leadership challenge in life – getting my 4yr old to sleep. The lyrics really spoke to me, and I want to share them as a message to all those in transition or looking at their next step, and to those leaders line managing the next generation:
“Be brave, strong and courageous, trust yourself and keep going. You will smash through that glass ceiling!”
Follow Debbie’s journey on Twitter.