Star Alumni Series: Suzanne McFarlane

The FNF leadership programme allowed me to reflect on my story and self, my career journey. 'Self' as my focus. Self-awareness made me delve into what was missing, what makes me unique, what makes me qualify for my next opportunity, my greatest career achievements, what motivates me, the value I bring, how diversity is a strength. The impact has supported my development and growth as a compassionate leader.
Suzanne McFarlane
Paediatric Practice Development Nurse at North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust

Suzanne McFarlane is a Paediatric Practice Development Nurse at North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust. She is also a Professional Nurse Advocate and Resilience Based Clinical Supervision Facilitator. In 2023 she completed the FNF Mary Seacole leadership development programme, aimed at strengthening leaders and addressing inequalities in healthcare.

I came to the UK from Trinidad and Tobago and trained as a nurse as an overseas student. I have since been practicing here in paediatrics for the last 24 year. My career journey comprises of a variety of roles gaining a breadth and depth of knowledge and skills in management, safeguarding, education both in practice and HEI, research and secondment roles supporting winter pressures during Covid and being redeployed in adult community services.

I currently manage the Paediatric Play Team at North Mid, who support children and young people’s hospital experiences and so my leadership programme quality improvement project was based on improving hospital experience of 16–18-year-old cared for in adult wards.

It is well documented that young people cared for in adult areas of a hospital can lead to a poor hospital experience and so impact on their wellbeing. As part of my project, I mobilised the Play team and Youth workers with daily ward visits: challenges were identified and looked at best ways to overcome.

I was then selected as one of six to present about my project on the Mary Seacole programme’s celebratory day.  I was surprised to be chosen as self-doubt and inner critic has always been my usual response.

My experience with previous leadership programmes I attended in the past was very much based on tools and processes rather than tapping into my self-awareness, strength, self-belief, and transformation, which FNF managed to achieve.

Having to present in front of a large audience initially instilled fear but putting into action my breath work, voice projection and stance enabled me to override these challenges.

“Very little can be done under the spirit of fear.” Florence Nightingale.

More broadly, FNF has validated and enhanced my ability to be a compassionate leader which has had a huge impact on leading others around behaviour changes, as this was a key challenge when engaging with adult services as part of my project.

I felt more able to have courageous conversations, manage emotions when met with resistance and therefore understood staff anxieties. As a result, adult services have become more engaging with young people in decisions about their care. This has contributed towards improved patient experience because of changes made such as open visitation for parents, provision of resource activities to respond to boredom, recliners for parents to sleep and empowering patients to have a voice.

FNF has also truly opened the doors for networking and the bravery to continue to present independently to different audiences.

I have since been asked to share my work about resilience based clinical supervision and impact in practice across many forums and venues with amazing feedback. One of which I am most proud of by NHS North Central London Integrated Care Board (NCLICB):

Your expertise, insights, and passion for Nurses added immense value to the event and left a lasting impression on our audience. Your dedication to empowering and celebrating nurses in the NCL truly resonated with everyone present… your participation helped make our event a success and contributed to raising awareness and appreciation for the vital role of nurses in healthcare”.

FNF has given me the opportunity to re-ignite my passion for nursing by reminding me what my values are and strengthen my commitment as a role model to support our future nurses.

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