Posted on: 18 June 2024

Richard joined the CNWL Chief Nurse Fellowship (CNF) programme in September 2022 working as Morden Matron at Park Royal Centre for Mental Health.

Whilst in this role and completing the programme an opportunity for a band 8B secondment arose in the Clinical Education Department. He was successful and appointed Head of Clinical Education, covering mental health and learning disability.

After ‘rising through the ranks’ he now works as a Service Manager and Lead Nurse at Horton Rehabilitation Services.

He shares how the Trust’s programme provided opportunity for him to develop his nursing leadership skills.

Why did you apply to the Chief Nurse Fellowship Programme?

The programme offered me an opportunity to make a difference in terms of delivering care with the real knack of having transferable leadership skills that model nursing within the Trust and beyond. There was a gap in terms of BAME representation and it was one of the drives why the Trust launched this programme. It's a challenge that we all are addressing in terms of inequality to be up there, but I think this programme helps to open doors.

The programme was really exceptional, it helped me to build upon and develop my nursing leadership and influencing skills. I saw it as an opportunity to grow in terms of my knowledge, skills in leadership and management and also how would I actually then model the leadership and excellent nursing practice back into practice.

What did you enjoy most about the programme?

I think for me the blended approach of using the experiential learning and evidence-based research with the support that I had. I had to do work that was tangible in the form of projects and met very high-profile people and leaders in the Trust; shadowing them, sitting in meetings with the Chief Executive, Chief Nurse and other Executive board members. I learned to use skills that I did not normally use, I found the voice and ability to pitch views sitting at the same table with these great leaders. For me, the softer skills of really managing difficult, complex situations and conversations that sometimes brings you to remain very calm and very focused on what you really need to achieve. It's an area that I’m still working on, but I did enjoy when I sat in those meetings learning and observing leaders deploying these soft skills to manage complex negotiations and still accommodate competing opinions / suggestions from each other’s. 

Did you find anything challenging about the Chief Nurse Fellowship programme?

I went in with an open mind that I would face challenges. So, it's about having these skills and understanding that I was being exposed to a bigger network where I could tap into the people around me or beyond to navigate the difficulties. You realise that you're not alone when you're looking for a solution, you can always go elsewhere and keep that willingness to learn and change as and when is required, remain very focused and compassionate in what I was doing, as long as it's something that is making a difference, especially to our service users, carers and staff. 

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for the CNF programme?
My advice will be if you don't try, you'll never know. The CNF Programme has the potential to open up doors and avenues that people usually don't know about. I think once you're in this programme you start to have opportunities you didn't see, and it's about maximising the opportunity to use them. It gives you the opportunity to explore more of what you can be capable of doing.

What’s next for you?

Nursing practice and leadership is something that I live and breathe, I like and enjoy it. For me at the moment I'm new in this role so I would like to really consolidate and I've started a very good big piece of work I would like to see it through. Currently my routes are here and I'm trying to make a difference where I am now.

This programme has been essential for me, because it opened up that kind of platform, taking me out of my comfort zone to try and use the transferred skills, influencing skills which I can use with confidence.