Meet our latest Star Alumna, Sarah Herbert, Deputy Chief Nurse at University Hospital, Southampton. Here she shares her thoughts on how a FNF scholarship boosted her passion as a nurse leader…


Sarah Herbert
Sarah herbert
Deputy Chief Nurse

Developing as a leader

“I originally trained in London – my background was in critical care. I had a clinical career of over 10 years covering a wide range of roles from education to critical care follow-up. It was when I moved down to Southampton that I decided that it was leadership I was really passionate about. I progressed through the grades and took on leadership roles in critical care before moving into theatres.

I really wanted to grow and develop further as a leader, and that’s when I applied for the Florence Nightingale Foundation Scholarship. At the time there were leadership opportunities coming up in my organisation and I thought that FNF could provide the support I needed as I developed into that new role and faced new challenges as a leader. The network of peers the FNF scholarship gave me across the country was fantastic. This close network has offered mutual support, perspective and guidance; it’s been incredibly valuable, particularly through the pandemic. There have certainly been times, and I know many of my fellow scholars will say the same, that this has got me through some really challenging situations. The whole FNF experience delivered in giving me greater exposure to wider national issues and meeting people from across the country.

Finding success 

It always feels like FNF is there at key times for me. The day before I was interviewed for Deputy Chief nurse, we had the Scholars Conference to celebrate completing the programme (at times during lockdown it felt like it might never happen). The encouragement and energy from the day gave me passion and drive and put me in the mindset I needed to be successfully appointed to the role the following day.

My aim when I started on the programme was to gain real leadership wisdom, and I definitely got the opportunity to have some of those conversations which have broadened my awareness and insight into my own values, skills and abilities. I’ve adapted my leadership style and try to be the leader that I want to be. I think FNF genuinely makes you feel like you can achieve so much, both as an individual and collectively as a group. I know I will have friends for life as a result of completing the programme. It’s given me the ability to dig deep and find the drive and motivation I often need to find a way forward and support myself, the organisation and the teams that I work with. That’s been the key takeaway from the scholarship.

Being an advocate 

I always have felt incredibly passionate about being a nurse, but the next step for me was about harnessing that so I can actually have an impact. I think that’s what FNF has given me, alongside recognising the value of leadership through fellowship. I am a firm FNF advocate and will take any opportunity I can to tell people how beneficial I found it.

Good leadership is about developing and supporting those around you. I would never turn down a request from colleagues to talk about their development, or to be a mentor. It is so important to share the positive experience I have had. It is the way we will grow as an organisation and as a profession.”