Human Fixer-upper

My name is Mandeep. I am a Sister working on a Neurology and Renal Ward and have been a nurse for nearly 5 years.

I chose to be a Health Care Assistant straight after leaving school in India at 18, working within the community, in residential and nursing homes. Nevertheless, nursing wasn’t the first career choice for me.

I actually decided to pursue a career in law and graduated from university with a postgraduate. I was all set, after 7 years, to become a solicitor. But as my kindhearted late grandmother would attest, that over the years, I am the human equivalent of a ‘fixer-upper’. That made me realise just how much I missed nursing and helping others.

Coupled with the fact that my husband continuously encouraged me to look at getting back into the profession, and as I was already a mum of two, I followed my heart, and as a late applicant. Little did I know that three weeks later I would be sat at the University of Wolverhampton’s Burton campus, on my first day as a student nurse. That’s when my love for it really began and continues to this very day.

Graduating in 2017, with a first-class Nursing Honours degree, in adult nursing, I finally realised that this is where my true passion lay, and where my true calling was.

My FNF Leadership Programme

I quickly progressed to become a Band 6 Sister on a Neurology and Renal Ward, but this journey started towards the end of 2019.  It started on a busy Acute short stay medical ward I worked on.  During my time here, I was encouraged to apply for the NHS 70 Midlands and East Leadership Programme that Florence Nightingale Foundation was offering, where it was suggested, it would help with my leadership development. There were only 30 places overall, so I felt quite lucky to be accepted.

I met some influential people on the Programme working within the NHS, and within different influential Leadership roles in the country. They had developed into nurse leaders after starting as HCA’s or nurses and were from various backgrounds. Being a mature student, myself going into nursing in my thirties, with two kids, was quite daunting, but hearing other people’s stories was very inspiring and empowering. It made me become more self-aware and confident to speak out – and to want to influence change in patient care.

The inspiring nurse leaders that I met on the programme shared their journeys with me and these stories were so authentic and really inspiring. I was told by one or these influential leaders, to always be authentic and true to myself, and to always follow my heart, and speak up for what I believe in. This has always stuck with me.

I liked that I met so many nurses and midwives from all over the region, which opened many doors for networking. Most of all, I learned so much about myself and not just how to be the good leader, but how to have a positive impact on others and have a positive voice. This paired with the experience and knowledge handed down from different nurse leaders on the day, have helped shape the decisions I have made to date, and to influence change around me. It has instilled confidence in me to then apply for the Scholarship and to follow my passion for impacting change with nursing handovers.

Ultimately, this journey into my first leadership role as a Sister has helped build my confidence and develop my leadership skills.

My quality improvement project – Nurse-to-Nurse shift handovers

The Quality Improvement project I completed during the Leadership Programme was a part of why I applied for the Travel Scholarship – to further pursue this on a national and international level. My Scholarship involves investigating the Nurse-to-Nurse shift handovers and the impact they have on the delivery of care provided to patients, namely, to seek out a standardised tool focusing on the benefits to patient safety and positive reinforcement of the importance of nursing communication styles. I am currently investigating this in my Trust across a mixture of both surgical and medical wards.

When done well, handovers, not only improve clinical care, but can improve morale of patients who really appreciate it when the nurses can offer a personal touch. Being aware of things in their patient’s life, even wishing them “Happy Birthday” can cheer them up and make them feel special. Most of all I aim to prove that by providing an efficient handover the quality of care delivered improves and also impacts on patient safety.

With the encouragement and support from my current Ward Manager, who is also a role model to me, I have also been piloting another project on the Renal Assessment Unit based on my ward. It is a document, which includes a nursing checklist were administering a critical medication to patients visiting the Unit. The purpose of the documentation is when used together with the Trust’s Standard Operating Procedure, to prove that it improves safety, minimises any margin for errors, and improves patient flow through the unit.

Impact of my FNF Leadership Programme

The Leadership Programme was a steppingstone towards a leadership role. It helped me to realise my potential and the impact that I could have on nursing.

The skills and support that I have gained from FNF have been just amazing. I have been able to develop both on a personal level and professionally as a Nurse Leader. I always strive to better myself and to be a better Leader, and role model. After attending the programme, The Florence Nightingale Foundation has given me so much confidence and drive to pursue my passion, that I will always treasure and share with others, to help them achieve their goals the way I have.

Most of all, the positive impact that it has had on my career has followed with me in my personal life. I have gained confidence to believe in myself and to speak up and be assertive where it matters and encourage others around me to do the same, which has led to me being involved in a project with CNO BAME Delivery Group of leaders on a regional basis.

The course itself, has had a huge impact in that is has led to me progressing to a Junior Sister role just 6 months after completing the Programme.

I would like to thank my sponsors for allowing me the opportunity to explore my project further with the scholarship and believing in it. If you are thinking about progressing and taking the next step, then this is a great Programme, and you should absolutely apply for it!

Covid impact, my Travel Scholarship, Bruiser and beyond!

Since becoming a Sister on a Cardiology and Renal ward, I stepped into a leadership role in the most challenging of times, amidst a global pandemic – caring for patients suffering with the Covid 19 virus on my ward. However, despite facing huge challenges over the last couple of years, it has not diminished my goals and passion for wanting to always improve patient safety and quality of care we provide to our patients. Once my ward re-opened as a Neurology and Renal ward, I decided to pursue an opportunity for quality improvement. Having such a supportive Ward Manager, as a role model on my ward, inspired me to take the next step.

This year, I applied for the Travel Scholarship with the Florence Nightingale Foundation. This is sponsored by The Royal College of Nursing, and I hope to have this completed next year, and also strive to purse a new leadership role.

Part of my Travel Scholarship will give me the opportunity to network and engage with other nursing professionals and leaders across the globe while researching and collecting evidence for my scholarship. I will also soon be visiting Guys and St. Thomas Hospital in London, and hoping to travel to Toronto, Canada, to observe handovers and investigate the nurse-to-nurse shift handovers further.

However, all these challenges and achievements cannot take away from the fact that coming home after a 12-hour shift to my six-year-old golden retriever, Bruiser, my two adorable loving children and one loyal husband, makes it all the worthwhile!

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