Dian Bates, Mary Seacole Programme

Dian Bates works in North Middlesex Hospital as a specialist diabetes and obesity lead midwife, and in 2021 she embarked on the Mary Seacole Leadership Development Programme with the Florence Nightingale Foundation. Here, as the applications for next year open, she tells FNF why it’s had such a remarkable impact on her life.

We always hope that our alumni feel empowered by the programmes they join; Dian certainly has been. “The programme is very empowering,” she tells us. “It makes you see things from a different point of view, a different perspective. It’s like a mind shift. In a way, it’s like wow, this world exists. It’s changed me as a person.”

During the programme, Dian has networked with staff in her organisation and been able to reflect on the concept of leadership. “My leadership style is very democratic,” she says. “I see everyone as a valued member of my team and that comes from working in Jamaica where everyone’s contribution is valued.” She’s now adamant that what she’s learned should be shared: “Florence Nightingale is all about being that compassionate leader. So as you go up the ladder, the next person can step up, prepared for the future. This is what this programme does – it empowers you to empower others.”

Empowerment and resilience are central pillars in Dian’s life. “I grew up in Jamaica on a farm and got married age 18,” she shares. “It ended very prematurely because of domestic violence but that was the best thing that happened to me. It sounds bad – what was good for me was to have the ability to come out of the situation. It made me understand women who go through domestic violence. It made me be more resilient, to find strength within myself, to focus, to achieve my goals. And most of all, to be more caring and positive, to educate and to advocate for other women. When I moved to England, I wanted to advocate for women, I wanted to be the voice for the women who didn’t have a voice.”

Dian, who has worked in the NHS for over 20 years, has been a tower of strength for others while managing challenges of her own. “Because I’ve gone through loads of experiences myself, it’s allowed me to support my colleagues to overcome their challenges as well – turning the negative things into positive things,” she explains.

One of the aspects of the programme that Dian found particularly inspiring was having a mentor. “The things I’m doing now… 18 years ago I didn’t think I would be doing this, I didn’t think I needed a mentor. And now having a mentor, I have gone on to present a conference. Can you imagine? I’ve written a blog, I’ve done a webinar, I’m doing a conference presentation in leaders in global health and tech. I have accomplished so many things – thank the heavens they put me on this programme.”

“Because of this I’m getting better at feeling more confident”

She’d now love to see the programme extended so that everyone in the health care profession can access it: “It shouldn’t be just midwives and nurses. I think it should go to all levels, even health care support workers, even senior managers before they become senior managers.”

“I relate myself to a stone,” she muses. “Because in every stone there is a crystal inside. You see, this is what the Mary Seacole programme does, they organise all of these environments so that you can actually polish those stones. They signpost you, they set you off for life. I love this programme!”

As for the biggest takeaway from the programme, for Dian it’s self-belief. “Do you know it really helped me to find that inner voice? And I think that’s a big thing for me. Because of this programme I’m getting better at feeling more confident. Believe in yourself – and there’s no harm and there’s no shame in asking for help.”

But what’s next for this superb student? “My desire is to be a consultant midwife within the next five years,” says Dian. “I’m working towards that so I can be more influential and advocate more for my colleagues and initiate new evidence-based practice.” We’ve every confidence in you Dian.

Find out more about the Mary Seacole Leadership Development Programme





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