What made you choose to become a midwife?

I have started my nursing journey with the dream of becoming a midwife. I graduated in Nursing in Portugal. There, you always train General Nursing before specialising in your preferred area. So I worked as a Nurse within maternity and infant services in Spain and the UK and specialised as a Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse before I did my Midwifery Diploma. I truly enjoyed and still miss my Nursing, but eventually, I had to follow my dream of helping women bring their babies to this world.

After 11 years of working with mothers, babies and their families, I am still passionate about maternity care. Because of its complexity, individuality, and need to evolve and innovate I am never bored, I am continuously learning and excited about it.

Why did you apply for a leadership programme at Florence Nightingale Foundation?

When I applied to the FNF NHS 70 Programme, I was returning from maternity leave and looking for a challenge and further learning opportunities. I had so much time to reflect on my work in the NHS, I wanted to have a higher impact and improve maternity services, but I didn’t know how.

I was also very self-conscious of being off work for 13 months and wasn’t feeling much confident in my practice.

So when I saw the brochure advertising the opportunity to develop leadership skills and increase self-awareness and confidence, I thought that it would fit both my purposes. But never in my wildest dreams, I expected it would transform my life the way it did.

Can you tell us about your leadership programme experience?

The FNF NHS 70 Leadership Programme was, by far, the best learning experience I have ever had. From the first day, I felt lifted and moved by my peers and the brilliant work they are doing as nurses and midwives in so many different areas.

The programme content was a boost to my confidence and self-awareness and had a significant impact on the way I relate with others in and outside work. It made me understand my value as a professional and thought me that it is ok to dream big and be bold.

There wasn’t a day that I didn’t feel inspired, heartened and informed by the speakers and their expertise.

On top of it, I had so many moments of fun and joy with my peers. But the highest moment during this programme and probably the greatest in my career as a Nurse was the Florence Nightingale and Edith Cavell Commemoration Service at the Westminster Abbey this year, where I had the privilege to escort the Florence Nightingale Lamp, with my dear colleagues and now friends Geoff Hall and Ross Anderson. It was magic and honourable to represent every Nurse in a day where we celebrate the values and achievements of Florence Nightingale.

What was your role before the FNF and where did the NHS 70 Leadership Programme take you?

I was and still am a Community and Birth Centre Midwife. Nonetheless, thanks to the QI training offer during the programme and the assignment to implement a small change at our workplace I was invited by the senior management team at my maternity services to work on the implementation of midwifery continuity of carer models, working towards the improvement of the quality and efficiency of the services offered to women and their families throughout their maternity care pathway. I have been working on it for almost a year now.

I also recently started a new role as Midwifery Lead for Choice and Personalisation for North Central London Local Maternity Services.

I always loved what I do. But I found a voice to express both mine and my team vision of better maternity services; I gain a language through the QI skills to communicate that vision; I also make better use of the platform I have for maternity transformations and improvement. My workspace is my platform, and anyone around me is my audience. From women, peers, senior managers, students, medical students. Anyone who wants to chat with me about maternity care, I don’t shy about it anymore, and I am learning exponentially listening to others views and documenting myself. I feel entitled to represent my profession in a way I didn’t feel before.

What’s next for Nayol?

Oh! One thing that this experience did to me was to reinforce my passion for maternity and infant care. But I have also learned that strategic thinking, project management, and embracing challenges come naturally to me. It makes me thrive, and it feeds me with as much adrenaline as supporting women during childbirth. Therefore, I aim to work more and more in the transformation of maternity services and hopefully have a positive impact both locally and nationally.

I aspire to develop my leadership skills and perform a Master in Healthcare Management.

But ultimately, I want to improve maternity care to as many women and families as possible in the UK and worldwide. The ultimate dream would be to promote accessible, equitable and personalised maternity care to every single woman. It may sound naive, and I don’t mind.

What would you tell nurses and midwives about the Foundation?

In my point of view, the Foundation keeps alive the values of Florence Nightingale and her commitment to improve public health and evidence the importance of Nursing as a healthcare profession. It honours her legacy and celebrates and rewards contemporaneous and remarkable Nursing achievements.

The FNF believes in empowering nurses individually and supporting them to work better and more efficiently as a collective, by providing leadership development opportunities to nurses.

I am very excited to learn more about the FNF aspirations for Nursing at the Nightingale 2020 Conference.

Why would you recommend a leadership programme or a scholarship to a colleague?

What’s not to recommend? It is a fantastic opportunity for learning and career development and self-care. The programme is thoughtfully planned to support you in your career journey. No aspect of it can cause you embarrassment, self-doubt or disbelief, which was remarkably empowering to someone like me, as I am continually self-criticising my capabilities as a professional.

Soon one realises that their peers are going through precisely the same struggles in their work environments – which is incredibly healing and builds a robust network of peer-to-peer support.

I gained invaluable mentorship support that I hope that I can keep for the rest of my career. At every single encounter, the knowledge and guidance from my mentor open my perspective, nurtures me with hope and helps me to keep focus.

If nothing else, I strongly recommend joining an FNF programme for access to incredible career role models in the shape of educators, speakers and mentors.

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