Tells us about your career to date?

It is a real pleasure to introduce myself to you as the new Director of the Florence Nightingale Foundation Academy. I have a clinical background in mental health nursing and previously worked in nurse education and research at the University of Nottingham for a number of years. I am most well known for championing the value of Graduate Entry Nursing programmes internationally and influencing workforce strategy and policy to improve recruitment and retention through the provision of psychosocially safe spaces for staff.

I have always made career decisions based on values. The desire to promote justice and challenge the misuse of power was at the heart of my decision to pursue mental health nursing from a very young age. The people who know me best were not surprised that my favourite game to play as a child became my passion and vocation. This drive continued to persuade me to follow a path into nurse education and research. Here I realised the potential influence I could have when working with whole communities of students and investing in them to believe in their ability to influence the quality of care and service provision. Also how research can be mobilised to have a real impact on policy and practice, both nationally and internationally, when I created networks with others who are in a position to translate knowledge into action.

What is your greatest achievement?

I often describe my greatest professional achievement as being awarded my PhD. Not because of the award itself, but because of the persistence and tenacity required to complete it as a person with dyslexia and at the same time as becoming a mum to my wonderful two children. My daughter was recently asked at school what she would like to do when she grows up? She told them she would like to be a teacher, nurse and a doctor. When she was told she couldn’t be all three she replied: “my mummy is”. This reinforced my desire to continue to develop myself to be in a position to develop others. My contribution was recently recognised when I was awarded the Principal Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy. This achievement is significant to me because it recognises how my influence has inspired others beyond my own institution.

What is your new role at the Florence Nightingale Academy

I am thrilled to join the Florence Nightingale Foundation as the Director of Academy. The Academy was launched on the 16th January at the House of Lords. It aims to showcase the impact FNF scholars and leadership programme participants have had at a local, regional and national level on policy and practice. We have numerous case studies which testify to the innovation, influence and organisational change that they have initiated. The Florence Nightingale Foundation Academy has the purpose of capturing this impact and integrating with the activity of our Policy Unit and Clinical Professors. The vision is to enable a collective and independent voice for nursing and midwifery which is informed by expert clinical experience and high quality evidence. It is this independent status that situates The Florence Nightingale Foundation Academy in a unique position to support the development and implementation of the national policy agenda.

How can our community get involved?

FNF alumni and members of the Academy will have the opportunity to be involved through our policy workstreams which are currently being defined. This could include joining an FNF policy forum, representing the FNF in strategic meetings or undertaking consultation work within your practice areas. With your support, we will ensure that the voice of nurses and midwives in all practise settings are embedded into the fabric of policy development and implementation.

For more information, please visit our Academy page on the link here and feel free to get in touch with Gemma and her team.

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