You are an Alumna of the Florence Nightingale Foundation. How does it feel to come back to the Foundation as a Trustee and what are you planning to bring to Florence Nightingale Foundation?
I feel honoured to be invited to be a Director and Trustee for Florence Nightingale Foundation as it is a prestigious and highly regarded charity. I completed my Leadership Scholarship in 2018 and I wear my Florence Nightingale Foundation badge with pride as to me it symbolises professionalism, leadership, opportunity and empowerment.
As a Trustee, I will be able to influence and impart my experience of over 35 years of nursing and leadership to contribute to the direction and guidance for nurses doing the scholarship as well as providing governance to the Foundation. I especially want to ensure there is an opportunity for a diversity of nurses from both hospital and community settings, all specialities and levels but also important all ethnicities as we are dealing with a diverse multicultural workforce. There should be equality of opportunity for all regardless of race, religion, gender, disability and age. I can be that voice to provide a diversity of thought. Also for BME nurses and midwives who may not have considered Florence Nightingale Foundation before as a possible place to get a scholarship which would help to enhance and advance their careers to get through barriers and glass ceilings.
What was your greatest learning experience during your scholarship year?
My greatest learning experience during my scholarship year is that there is an opportunity for everyone if there are the right support and guidance given. Most importantly we all in whatever capacity we are working in can assist and enable others to learn and progress.
I was amazed at how the nurses and other staff in the Netherlands went out of their way to make me welcome including translating the caseload they were sharing with me in English so that I would understand when they were doing their nursing handover. They provided a checklist of common phrases they use to help me to understand. They went the extra mile and we really willing to support in every area they could.
Why did you choose a career in nursing?
At the age of 3, my mother gave me a nurses uniform as a Christmas present and ever since that day I decided I wanted to be a nurse. I used to watch any programme on TV that had nurses in it, such as, Angels and Casualty.
I enjoy helping people and when I was 7 years old, I went to school with a tin of plasters to apply to my friends whether they needed it or not! I always remember when my best friend cut her finger she would not let her mother put the plaster on, her mother had to bring her to my house up the road to apply the plaster, I was only 7 but it felt so rewarding. You can do little things which can make such a big difference in a positive way.
What would you tell the young Joan?
Be disciplined, focused and intentional and do not let other people’s opinions or views to sway you from what you really want to do. Always support and encourage others and empower them to help themselves to get where they need to go.
What motivates Joan Myers?
I like sharing both my good and bad experiences at work and how I got through challenges to encourage others not to give up or give in. One of my favourite mottos is “Good, better, best. Never let is rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.” – Tim Duncan
There are not many Black or Minority Ethnic nurses in senior roles in the NHS or healthcare and very few are on panels, committee meetings and boards to influence decision making. It’s an honour to be able to be in an area where I can provide a diversity of thought and different perspective to contribute to change and improvement for all.
Many people have motivated and encouraged me along the way to get me to where I am today so where there is an opportunity to support and empower others I like to be able to do so.
When you are not working what are your passions?
My passion is for the charity work I do in Kenya supporting children and young people to be fed and educated. I started with one 4 years old girl whom I provided school sponsorship for and supported her whole family including her parents and 8 siblings. This was in 2002, she is now 20 years old and told me last year that I was her role model and she wanted to be a nurse. I enrolled her in nursing school in Kenya and she is now studying to be a nurse. Her family helps to administrate the charity that supports 25 poor and needy children in the slum area where this girl grew up. They are helped through the kind sponsorship and donations I received from friends and colleagues. Some have left school and are doing very well now.
My plan is to build a school, church, children’s home and a health centre in the village where I first met the little girl. Therefore I spend a lot of time fundraising and sharing about the work as well as visiting to do both evangelism and medical missions in Nakuru, Kenya.
I am going with a team on a medical mission to Kenya on the 5th of September. We are setting up a medical camp in the village where people have limited opportunities to see doctors or go to a hospital as its too expensive. So we provide a free medical camp and prescribe and dispense medication and treatment. I work with the local people and the Ministry of Health to set it up.