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Having a voice on nursing and midwifery

As part of the national transforming perceptions of nursing and midwifery campaign, the Lead Nurse for Primary Care Quality at Doncaster CCG outlines what it means to her and why she is encouraging others get behind it:

As a nurse, I am thrilled to be involved and supporting the transforming perceptions of nursing and midwifery work.

In May this year, Professor Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England launched a series of 12, 30 day challenges in support of our quest to improve recruitment and retention of nurses and midwives.

Ten ‘building blocks’ have been created to tackle myths, stereotypes and target negative perceptions. They were designed by thousands of nurses, midwives and patients through ideas submitted to the crowdsourcing platform as a base for the transforming perceptions work. They mean different things to different people, but I’d like to highlight what some of them mean to me, in the hope that others will join me in becoming ambassadors of our fantastic professions.

For staff in any profession, to feel valued and empowered they need to feel that not only do they have a voice, but that voice is listened to.

Having a voice is about belonging, having ownership of our surroundings and being understood.

When things aren’t going to plan, we can either sit back and accept it’s not right, or we can speak up, suggest change in a positive way and work together to improve the situation. Our voices can be powerful if they are used constructively; it’s not about being the loudest or about shouting to be heard, it’s about being listened to by our managers, being appreciated and supported to speak up.

Growing talent is also key – it’s about seeing the budding talent of students and new recruits, finding and helping them to find their passion, their strengths and their goals.

Once they have found the areas of our profession that really grabs their attention, supporting them to learn, develop, grow and become knowledgeable, resilient, supported and happy nurses and midwives.

I feel very fortunate that at every stage in my career, I’ve had people who believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. These people supported me, taught, corrected and encouraged me. They helped to make me the nurse I am today.

None of us can do this alone – it is important that we work together to support or mentor junior colleagues and build relationships that encourage people to blossom; they’ll give you the most rewarding feeling.

Nursing and midwifery are extraordinary careers for anyone, with a building block focussed particularly on encouraging young people to consider nursing as a career. I was 19 when I first proudly wore my student nurses uniform and I’ve not once regretted that decision in almost three decades.

The opportunities for nurses and midwives are endless; so many more roles and specialities are out there than I could ever have dreamed of in the 1980’s. There are so many career pathways that nurses and midwives can take, too many to mention, but there is a niche for everyone; children’s nursing, care of older people, mental health nursing, learning disability nursing, midwifery, end of life care, trauma care, acute nursing and rehabilitation, community nursing and primary care, the list goes on.

I am delighted to see the new nursing recruitment campaign and how ambassadors like me can actively transform perceptions to encourage more people to join our professions.

I have always been very proud to say I’m a nurse and it is important that one of the building blocks is focussed on sharing stories, including the addition of our titles to showcase and shout out that we are nurses and midwives. It shows that we are not only proud to be nurses and midwives, but also, what makes us proud. This building block helps us to communicate with three key audiences – speaking with children and young people, their parents, carers and families; building and reigniting pride within our professions and liaising direct with our MPs, local, regional and national policy makers and the media, to share the breadth and diversity of our professions, as well as sharing the unique value of our roles.

We are all guilty of working in our own little worlds and comfort zones. We are often unaware of the various roles around us. By connecting with each other and by uniting our professions across boundaries, we learn more about each other’s roles, challenges and successes. This could result in smoother referrals from service to service or having a contact to call on when needed.

So, I hope you will join me in implementing the 12, 30 day challenges and please do think about what they mean to you – if more of us do this and openly share with our colleagues, peers and others, we can and will transform the perceptions of nursing and midwifery in England and beyond.

Zara Head

Zara Head is the Lead Nurse for Primary Care Quality at NHS Doncaster CCG and has been in post for two years.

She trained as a nurse at Scunthorpe General Hospital, starting her career in Orthopaedics and Accident and Emergency, working in various hospitals in the north of England.

She has spent most of her career in primary care, first as a practice nurse for a busy GP and prior to her current role, she was a Lead Inspector for the Care Quality Commission for primary and integrated care.

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