22 May 2023

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Four months in…

Kate Wilson reflects on the positive impact our Development Programme is having on her, her colleagues and patients

Kate Wilson

In her second article about her experiences of our Advanced Clinical Practitioner and Nurse Consultant Development Programme, Kate Wilson, Clinical Nurse Specialist at St Barnabas in Worthing, reflects on the positive impact its having on her, her colleagues and patients.

Four months in and rarely a day goes by that I don’t apply something I’ve picked up on the programme. Since starting in January, we’ve now had five sessions and the 10 of us on the programme have developed a really close bond. It feels like we’re all learning so much together and like we’re all very comfortable sharing and growing together.

We met again remotely last week and had an amazing day with the i-Opener Institute, focusing on the science of happiness at work. We looked at leadership and finding that right balance of showing just the right amount of vulnerability to colleagues so they can see we’re empathetic and able to connect with them, but being careful not to overshare.

Authenticity has been a running theme throughout all the five sessions we’ve done so far, learning how colleagues can easily spot when you’re not being authentic and the effect this can have on their relationship with you as a leader.

At the end of this most recent session we did an exercise that I think some of us were possibly dreading a bit, but because we’ve been together now as a group for a few months, we feel like it’s a safe space and, in fact, I felt comfortable sharing my example of how I faced a time of real adversity and pushed through.

My story was about the mental health challenges I had with post-natal depression after my third child. I reflected on how that had impacted on me when I went back to work as a palliative care nurse. I talked about feeling like I couldn’t do my job and talked about recovery and how that process has impacted on me personally, my family but patients too – how I now understand patients better. We all have a story to tell and this process was about engagement and listening and letting people have space and time to tell their story. There were lots of tears and laughter!

In the workplace, I think as nurses we’re maybe quite good at remembering to give our patients that time to tell their story but not necessarily our colleagues. So, we learned that it’s part of being a good leader to understand what motivates and drives your colleagues.

When I started the programme I definitely had a strong sense of imposter syndrome, but Maaike and her team running the programme have really helped build my confidence and I am shedding a bit more of that feeling every day.

In a practical sense, that means I’m infiltrating my way into the senior leadership team at St Barnabas and they’re accepting – no one is saying, ‘stay in your lane, Kate’. I’ve been sharing more and more about the programme with the senior leadership team and they are embracing it and becoming much more accepting of my role as a nurse consultant and recognising what I’m doing.

So much of the programme is about developing others which is brilliant as I am mentoring an Associate Clinical Nurse Specialist at the moment. I have mentored many times before but this programme has completely changed my notion of mentoring and how I do it. I think the major change is shifting from the classic nurses’ way of wanting to fix things and be a rescuer, to seeing that the best method of mentoring is to be an enabler – supporting her to come up with her own solutions. And I know from the feedback she’s given that she’s finding it helpful.

Then finally, I realised just this week the impact the programme is having on how I interact with patients. I was chatting to one yesterday and suddenly realised I was using the coaching techniques we’ve talked about in the programme. We just had a very natural conversation and I referred her to the appropriate services. We both felt empowered.

Overall, I know from my perspective, and I think the whole group feels the same, we’re learning so many practical techniques through hugely insightful models of learning. Everyone feels that it’s a really valuable programme.

I can’t wait now for the two-day face-to-face sessions we’re doing next month when the whole group will also have the chance to spend time together too. I’ll share my insights on these sessions next time.

If you’d like to find out more about the Advanced Clinical Practitioner and Nurse Consultant Development Programme click here.

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