It was wonderful to be part of the inaugural Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF) Academy Membership event, World Café, on July 15th. This was the first time our members have had the opportunity to safely come together in person to discuss topical issues affecting the national nursing agenda.
The Foundation launched its Academy Membership in January 2020 to maximise the influence of FNF’s expert alumni network, and to enable the growth of nursing and midwifery leadership. Due to the pandemic and social distancing guidelines, we had been unable to host an in-person event until now. As you can imagine, we were over the moon to finally be able to offer a physical event for our members to network and collectively consult, inform, and improve services through sharing their expertise and experiences.
Our CEO, Professor Greta Westwood CBE, opened our event by thanking us all for the ongoing efforts throughout the pandemic, showing us the collective impact we have as nurse leaders. Our Chair Dame Yvonne Moores also shared the below wise words,
‘Bringing powerful nurse leaders together will only strengthen our voice and influence. The much-needed change is in our hands. Our vision, our dream and my experience is that bringing chief and senior nurses together is powerful. It creates a powerbase for the profession, and we are making this happen though membership of the FNF Academy’.
Dame Yvonne handed across to Professor Jacqui Reilly, Director of Nursing for NHS Scotland, who shared a rundown of the early impact the Academy has already had. Achievements include presenting to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) on mandating Clinical Supervision as part of the Revalidation process and championing the need for inclusive and diverse leadership. The Membership has grown enormously in the past year with over 51 organisations signing up to become a member, leading to a combined reach of over 100,000 nurses and midwives. Most recently, the Academy has further extended its Membership to senior nursing and midwifery leaders across the UK with the benefits extending to all nurses and midwives within their trust or organisation.
Jacqui further praised FNF’s Nightingale Frontline Leadership Support Service. As part of the Academy Membership all nurses and midwives have access to the Nightingale Frontline programme, which provides coaching and support to explore the personal and professional challenges of responding to the pandemic. It has proved to be an invaluable support and much needed outlet for our nurses and midwives particularly through these challenging times and it is wonderful to know how many further nurses and midwives we were able to reach via the Membership.
Once welcomes had been made, tabletop discussions commenced with nurse leaders sharing their valuable thoughts and opinions on the future direction of the Membership discussing topics on inclusivity, education, scholarships, events, and growth globally. A plethora of ideas for us to grow and strengthen FNF’s work further.
Our final speaker of the day was Wendy Irwin, Head of Equality and Diversity from the Royal College of Nursing presenting practical solutions on how to further embed inclusive leadership. We are all in this together or as Wendy stated – if you have skin you are in! We all have a part to play to carefully consider the contributions from all areas of our communities in ensuring inclusive leadership supporting one another sensitively and thoughtfully.
The excitement and energy at the event was palpable and it is evident there is an enormous appetite for significant change across our nursing communities. We have faced real, and at times devastating, challenges working on the frontline throughout the pandemic. We are creating a movement for our collective nursing voice to be heard, not only nationally but globally. As our CEO Greta stated at the event, ‘We are the powerhouse of nursing and midwifery, and our time is now’. There are certainly exciting times ahead for our Academy Membership.