Hear from Professor Gemma Stacey, Director of The FNF Academy following our recent Scholars Conference.

My role as Director of The FNF Academy offers me opportunity to celebrate the impact and contribution of nurses and midwives practically every day. I feel privileged to know and support so many individuals who come together through FNF and collectively create a learning environment which transforms, them not only as professionals but also as people. The 2019/ 2020 FNF Scholar conference was the epitome of the FNF effect.

We convened scholars, mentors and sponsors to shine a light and celebrate the achievements which had arisen as a result of the scholarships. There was huge variety in what we heard as the scholarships support nurses and midwives from across the UK, from every field of practice and working in every health and social care setting. We were overwhelmed by the atmosphere of joy which spread through the room.

The event felt especially poignant for these groups, as their experience had been disrupted by the impact of the pandemic. Despite the barriers social distancing had placed upon them coming together as they normally would, they had created a network and support structure that they described as sustaining them through the most challenging events of their careers. Nurses and midwives across the UK articulated how they had valued and appreciated this network, which had been a lifeline to them. They also describe the phenomenal strength they had discovered in themselves and courage to believe in their ability to step forward, speak up and influence on behalf of their teams and the people who were accessing their services.

The theme that ran through the conference was a call to action, to pay forward the impact of this amazing development opportunity. To encourage colleagues to apply for scholarships, to mentor others on their development journey, to donate to support the work of the foundation and to do all these things locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Dame Yvonne Moores (Chair of FNF) announced the strategic intent for FNF to offer their development opportunities to nurses and midwives globally. She acknowledged that others were not offered the same investment and that is our mission to “put our arms around nurses and midwives across the world”. This message was reiterated by Ruth May (CNO England) who urged the audience to look after those who were new to the NHS as early career and international nurses and enable nurses and midwives from ethnically diverse backgrounds to take some steps forwards in their career trajectory. These calls to action are driven by a desire to improve the global nursing and midwifery workforce shortage and it was acknowledged that we all have a part to play as members of the global health system. More information on the plans of FNF Global can be found here (Florence Nightingale Foundation Global – Florence Nightingale Foundation (florence-nightingale-foundation.org.uk).

My final reflection is for our 2019/2020 scholars who have now joined our alumni community. Their journey with FNF is just beginning and they are only just realising the value they will gain. They are now #FNFForever

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