Students complete Council of Deans student leadership programme

Posted on 24 July 2018

Three nursing students and one midwifery student have just completed a four month Student Leadership programme run by the Council of Deans.

Nursing students Felix Manders-Wilde, Megan Last, Catriona Waktare and midwifery student Lucy Horne were among 150 students who took part in the programme which aims to promote and develop leadership skills among the future nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals workforce by working with first and second year pre-registration students across England, Scotland and Wales.‌

Felix said: “In my opinion, leadership in nursing doesn’t get enough press. We know it’s there, we know we need it and we know that it needs to be effective in order to benefit practice and patient outcomes. But how can we make it so effective and is it easier said than done?

When I began studying at University, I decided to embark upon whatever opportunities would come my way in order to enhance my own practice in my transition from working as a healthcare worker to becoming a registered mental health nurse at the end of my degree. In my first term of my first year that I received an email inviting me to apply for leadership programme. I applied and was selected to be one of ‘The 150 Leaders’. I received an abundance of information, and it was then that it dawned on me that I had landed myself a truly fantastic and privileged opportunity.

A few months passed and then I attended an initial two day event which enthralled me. Some truly inspirational leaders in healthcare came to speak to us, share learning and inspire reflection. Each ‘150 leader’ has their own mentor. Mine, a Senior Lecturer at Northumbria University, has given me a lot of food for thought and I have taken great pleasure in meeting with, and speaking to, about leadership.

The programme is individualised. Each student is given the opportunity to explore whatever it is that they choose in regard to personal development and building and enhancing leadership skills. Much like University, what we get out of it depends on what we put into it. For me, the main thing I have taken away is a greater understanding of how I wish to continue to develop and I also now have a greater realisation of my potential to inspire leadership in others as well as myself. I also know (and most of the 150 leaders would agree with me) that the opportunities to network and open new doors have been invaluable. I have attended fantastic events across the UK, celebrating the NHS’s 70th birthday in the company of people such as Margaret Kitching, the Chief Nurse of NHS North and have been able to receive talks from, and network with, people such as Janet Davies, Chief Executive of The RCN and Professor Brian Webster-Henderson, Chair of The Council of Deans of Health. I have even had the opportunity to write a piece for The RCN Bulletin.”

‌Megan says: “This year I had set myself the challenge of taking every opportunity that came my way. So, after receiving an email advertising the Council of Deans Student Leadership Programme at the beginning of the year, it seemed the perfect way to start. Half a year since applying, it amazes me how much I’ve learnt and grown, how many brilliant people I’ve met, new friends I’ve made and how many doors have been opened.

The programme has so far included a two-day conference in Reading, a day conference in London and Mentorship with the Director of Nursing, Professional Development NHS England.

The mentorship has been fantastic, my mentor is an inspirational woman with brilliant advice and ideas. She has provided a taster of the world of healthcare policy – specifically Leading Change Adding Value - connected me with other leaders in healthcare and allowed me to shadow her for a day.

My experiences beyond the programme have been equally fantastic: attending the launch event for the E-learning tool for Leading Change Adding Value, and as a result featuring in a video on the website. Never did I think nursing would lead me to be stood in front of a camera with a microphone! As well as celebrating the past, present and future of the NHS at the regional NHS70 event at York Racecourse with my colleague Felix.

There are numerous things I’ve learnt as a result of the programme, but the four most valuable things I will take away with me include: 

  • A refreshed sense of personal value and confidence. Leadership is not just management and senior positions, we can lead from every role. Recognising this and understanding the value you can bring to a team as a student is crucial.
  • New friends and connections, as well as a new respect for the power of networking and its importance within the profession.
  • Twitter – the platform has opened my eyes to the fantastic healthcare community online, furthermore the support, friendship and knowledge available through it.
  • The excitement and confidence to say yes to opportunities.

Professor Paul Galdas, Head of Nursing and Midwifery in the Department said: "I am delighted that four of our students were recruited to the Council of Deans Student Leadership Programme. It's been an exciting opportunity for them to further develop their skills which has provided essential knowledge and skills for future healthcare leaders. Developing high level teamwork and leadership skills will be critical to the success of the next generation of nurses and for the future of healthcare and I hope that they have learnt a great deal from the experience."