"It almost felt like a calling to me"

“My name is Aishah, I am a 25 year old nurse working at the Northern Care Alliance as a Band 7 Safer Staffing Lead. I qualified 3 years ago as a staff nurse and since qualifying have been looking for ways to develop my nursing skills, my leadership qualities and most of all my confidence.

Early last year when I was searching for leadership courses that would develop me as a future manager, especially so early on in my career, I came across the Florence Nightingale Foundation Academy site. I searched and scrolled till I found a programme which would help me achieve my goals and one which would offer me a lot at 2 years as a qualified nurse. I came across the Sandra Charitable Early Career Programme and applied. I had to put forward a Quality Improvement Project on a topic which I was passionate about and which I wanted to see an improvement on within the ward I worked on. A couple of weeks later I received an email to say I had been successful in applying and had been given a place on the programme.

I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a nurse, but I knew one thing for sure, I wanted to help others, inspire others, and most of all I wanted to be the reason someone smiled when their day didn’t always seem to be going well. I was grateful to have been given the opportunity to apply for this programme as it came to me at a time when I questioned myself as a leader. I constantly worried whether what I was doing was enough and if I needed to do something extra to push myself a little more. Then came the programme, it almost felt like a calling to me.

I think it’s normal to say how nerve-wracking it can be meeting new people within your own workplace but to meet people from various organisations and trusts, I was definitely anxious. But thinking now about the completion of the programme, I laugh because the friends I made are definitely lifelong friends. We all applied because we needed it and wanted to. It’s special to be on a career journey with people you don’t work with, taking in conversations and ideas. It’s inspiring and this programme definitely helped me break that anxiety down. It was in-depth and covered all areas of management and leadership styles that we face so early on in our careers as nurses.

We didn’t judge one another, we listened and communicated effortlessly. We were given the chance to share our empowering stories with each other and this was great because we are all in different stages of our careers and our own personal choices and experiences brought us together to this programme. The RADA day was really beneficial for me as the focus was on building confidence through sharing and problem-solving and learning how to manage nerves, imposter syndrome and workplace anxiety. It was great spending 2 days in London with my group outside of work and we built great relationships both professionally and personally. 

This programme for me, was definitely an eye opener and when making any leadership decisions I definitely think back to things I have learnt on this programme, I look forward to our celebration event in November and to seeing my group again. We have been keeping in contact with each other via our group chat, but it will be great to be able to see each other face to face to celebrate our achievements and share the improvements and changes we have made within our workplaces since completing the programme.

I would definitely recommend the programme to other early-career nurses and midwives. You have nothing to lose and lots to gain”.

The Sandra Charitable Trust Early Career Nurses and Midwives Leadership Programme is a full funded programme for nurses and midwives who are in their first two years post-qualification. The programme is currently open for applications. Find out more and apply here.