My midwifery passion: from seed to oak

I’m Rattan Gill, I work as a midwife on the labour ward at University Hospitals of Leicester, East Midlands and was recently granted the opportunity to be one of the first Academy Fellows with Florence Nightingale Foundation!

It was two decades ago when the seed of my passion started to grow. All I knew at that time that my passion for women and their wellbeing was driving me to get the title of NHS midwife. Since then, my passion has continued to grow, which not only nurtures my midwifery care but I have feedback it has inspired many others to join the midwifery profession.

I feel proud of myself when I support women during their high-risk labour by reducing the interventions. And I feel privileged when women say how safe they felt in my care and that I helped them to cope and be in control. I fulfil my passion everyday with the knowledge knowing that I will give my woman safer carriage of birth. I also hope I support the future of midwifery by inspiring student midwives as a role model.

My passion seed grew into a big strong tree with many strong branches. I started my own community project to promote health for Asian community for whom English is a second language, including via a radio show. I also organised health seminars at a Sikh temple. My mission was to promote public health awareness of good dietary control, reducing hospital admissions, awareness of emergency call, pharmacist role and the NHS website. My community’s feedback made me strong to carry on even though I had no mentor.

My passion continued to grow by reading emails of success stories by UHL staff and their passion to do more. And one day I read a message from our chief nurse Julie Hogg about “Making the magic happen” through Council for Shared Decision Making at my trust. I was not a member of this council, but I could feel the passion and team spirit. I learnt how a shared council is the Pathway to Excellence and a lot more! I wrote to my chief nurse and shared my feelings on making the magic happen, but only if someone believes in your mystical power!

A ‘late career’ professional

I was surprised to read her reply and her support for me to join the FNF Academy as a Fellow, at this later stage in my career. I identify myself as ‘Late Career’ and feel frustrated that, despite my professional specialities and positive feedback to my work, I have been unsuccessful in career progression. Even being told informally that people prefer to recruit younger staff. I was lacking leadership development but could not get onto any programmes. I felt my opportunity window was closed, it was time for me to give up and leave my profession, possibly retire.

But when I was chosen to do the new FNF Fellows programme I felt appreciated and rewarded by my Trust. I could not believe this opportunity offered to me to keep my profession live!

As part of this programme, I attended the FNF Academy Membership Symposium in September. This was a great introduction, I met many outstanding members who were representing the NHS and other organisations, UK and globally. Among these experts who were sharing their great success storied of their struggle and success, I felt very insignificant! I never been anywhere except my labour ward sharing my passion and inspiring my students. I never came across such a powerful Academy before, with great projects running. I never had the opportunity to attend any Academy which actively support professionals in their career development.  But now I feel very excited to support my own career development as part of being a Fellow of FNF.

FNF Fellows first training: hopes and goals

I then met the other new Fellows during the first of our virtual trainings in October. All with their enormous passion, thrill and anticipation to be wizards of FNF and be a bridge to creativity in leadership at national or global level.  We all shared our hopes and goals: mine are to bring positivity within midwifery, unity at all staff levels, provide safe patient care and serve as an advocate for our profession.

I am confident this fellowship programme holds the gateway to my ever-growing passion caring for birthing people at all levels. I feel privileged to have access to this learning. I am excited to start my coaching on how to influence policy making, be a transparent leader, to empower others and make quality improvements.

After this first virtual meeting I feel so proud of myself and my Trust especially our Chief Nurse Julie Hogg, Chief Executive Richard Mitchell and Dani Burnett, Director of Midwifery at University Hospitals of Leicester.  The FNF fellowship position was a great news for me and for my family who were my support.

FNF has provided me with a motivation to continue with my profession. And my endless passion which has been the fuel of my determination to do more and to be called ‘my midwife’!

FNF is offering a 12-month Fellowship programme to nurses and midwives who are employed at our FNF Academy Member Organisations. We want to close the gap in professional leadership development opportunities across health and social care settings and actively encouraging Chief Nurses to nominate individuals who have not yet embarked upon an opportunity like this previously. Find out more about this and other membership benefits here.