Star Alumni Series: Empowering Sustainable Leaders – Lucie Planner

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This course came at a time, when I didn’t realise how much I needed to focus on me and how I can grow as a leader and to be re-energised to deliver the work I’m leading on.
Lucie Planner
CYP lead nurse, NHS England

Lucie is a Lead Children’s and Young Person’s (CYP) Nurse working within the Southeast and North West regions in the Children’s Transformation teams for NHS England (NHSE)  She completed the FNF residential ‘Empowering Sustainable Leaders‘ programme in September 2023.

‘Life-changing’, ‘impactful’ and ‘insightful’ are some of the words I would use to describe the empowering sustainable leaders programme I attended.

This course came at a time, when I didn’t realise how much I needed to focus on me and how I can grow as a leader and to be re-energized to deliver the work I’m leading on.

Why I applied for the leadership course

My health career began as a Band 2 support worker in a special care baby unit as well as bank work on a variety of adult wards. I knew I wanted to work with children primarily and I was delighted when I was accepted to Bournemouth University and graduated with my RN Child Degree.

The bulk of my post qualified RN child career was initially spent with a decade at University Hospital Southampton where I worked in a variety of roles including as a Nurse Practitioner in Children’s Orthopaedics and a Nurse Specialist within Children’s infectious diseases team before I left to work in a school nurse role primarily for childcare reasons. 

I returned to support the acute trust during COVID and then took a Lead Nurse position in the private sector. I began my current role as CYP lead nurse for the SE within NHSE in October 2022 with a main workstream of CYP nurse workforce.

Very soon after I started this post, I had a tragic family bereavement to process. As a nurse and as a leader, I feel we are equipped with empathy and compassion and are often much better at giving that to other’s rather than ourselves. I think I threw my efforts into trying to distract myself and I didn’t truly hear and listen to the kindness and support that was offered to me and to start to process my grief.  Instead I just continued to work as hard as I could. 

As with time, comes healing and growth and I think as well as developing my professional identity within the region, with the support of some inspirational leaders I have been lucky enough to work with, I have also been developing myself.

What did we do on the course

The course started with arriving in Cornwall and having the warmest of welcomes at the incredible Cabilla retreat.

We were educated and taught so much about our ancient land and inhabitants, and we got to experience the atmosphere of walking and being guided though a 3000+ year old ancient rainforest.  I went for early morning river dips in the ancient temperate rainforest as I wanted to experience as much as I could. I went to see the most incredible star lit sky at nearly 11pm overlooking the rainforest and at the highest point with two other peers who are now friends.  Our necks ached from staring up at the most amazing sky with no light pollution.

The course flew by and the days were jam packed, although delivered in a calming way.  It was meticulously planned and encompassed so much in the time.

In the current role I hold, I spend the bulk of my work sat at my desk indoors. Having the opportunity to learn, develop and grow as a leader whilst appreciating nature, the beautiful surroundings, and the elements, made this course even more impactful.

The core aim of the course was to empower sustainable leaders and boy was I empowered.  To try and put into word’s the main things I took from the course and whole experience are hard for me as every moment was special. Lucy Brown is phenomenal, she educated us on the impact of Global health care on the planet and showed the devastation of global warming. She then gave hope, with all the other facilitators, as she showed incredible examples of where nurses and midwives were making huge positive changes and reducing carbon emissions significantly with simple changes that can be adopted and spread. I know we all felt empowered to share this information as far and wide as we can.

The first day we were also given our results of the pre-course Myers Brigg’s personality testing we had taken. This has really helped me to understand how I think and where I can grow as a nurse leader and gave practical guidance on how to accept and understand my personality straights and to strengthen my abilities.

 We spent the second day with inspirational leaders at the Eden project. We were taught about the conservation work they are leading the way with and were also taken on a journey of personal discovery. In the evening, we had a talk about some of the incredible ‘people and nature’ work that is happening at Eden and this was a huge opportunity for myself and colleagues to link up some of the health work we are leading on within Children and Young People.  I am excited about the collaboration and what these relationships will lead to for improving health outcomes as well as improving our future environmental impacts. We all have so much to learn from each other.

The future health of our people and our planet is something anyone in healthcare has to work to tackle.  The problems are huge and we all need to take action and lead on sustainability change and improvement and actively drive change.  As a CYP nurse this has to be radiated to the young we care for as we all have a responsibility to protect and conserve our planet for future generations. 

I was joined on the course by 11 other delegates. All attendees are incredible NHS leaders in Nursing or Midwifery.  Everyone brought value to the group and the course impacted every single one of us and I don’t want to lose touch with any of them. 

We had the final day led by Kate from RADA. It was the cream of the crop with the lineup of tutors. Kate complemented the facilitators guidance perfectly. She was able to guide us into how to improve our presence, use communication skills and gain confidence to take back to our work she delivered this day in a personalised way, the feedback, the guidance, the time she invested into each of us shows how gifted she is in what she does.   

Impact of the course

I have developed confidence, identity and I understand that I have a responsibility, a drive and ability to lead positive change, to create new ideas and outcomes and to deliver on the things that really matter.  This will always be collectively with all the brilliant NHS workforce and colleagues who want the same positive change. “If we all did the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves” Thomas Edison.

My top tips would be: as soon as the next course is advertised; apply! If you are lucky enough to be accepted absorb and enjoy every minute. Take the inspiration you are given back to your environment and ripple out the positive impact you can lead on.

If you would like to apply for one of our Leadership Programmes, find out more here.