Although I have been conferred with several nursing awards, I am excited that I have been shortlisted for The Black British Business Awards
We speak to Ruth Oshikanlu, an independent health visiting consultant/pregnancy mindset expert and CEO of Goal Mind Limited, who has been a nurse for 22 years
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
I fell into nursing. I always wanted to become a doctor because my parents wanted me to. In my late teens I realised that studying medicine was my parents dream for me and not mine. Aged 17, I left Nigeria and came to the UK in the early 90s and toyed with various courses including computing and electronics. As I was not quite sure what I wanted to become, I consulted with a careers adviser who suggested that I should try nursing. I took her advice and applied for nurse training and have not looked back since.
Where did you train?
I trained at King’s College London and was one of the first cohorts of Project 2000.
What was your first job in nursing?
Upon qualifying as a nurse, I was not sure what I wanted to specialise in. Hence, I took up a year-long rotational post at King’s College Hospital spending four months each in haemotology/heamato-oncology, high dependency and accident and emergency (A&E). During my last month in A&E, I assisted with the delivery of a baby and I instantly knew I wanted to be a midwife. I left nursing to train as a midwife and returned to nursing 11 years ago after becoming a parent.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
Perfectionism. Sometimes I wait for things to be perfect before I start out. As such I miss out on some opportunities. I am continuing to learn that imperfect action is better than perfect inaction.
From whom have you learnt the most in your nursing career and why?
Bernadette Kinsella, my community practice teacher when I was training to be a health visitor. She was selfless, expended herself and often went beyond the call of duty.
What advice would you give someone starting out in the profession?
A quote by Maya Angelou states: “People will forget what you said; people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. Thus, I urge every nurse starting out to always try to make every patient you meet have a great experience of your care. Make every contact count. Learn how to be resilient and get a good support network. Be progressive. Don’t settle for mediocrity. Seize opportunities. Always endeavour to make a difference to those you serve and the profession.
What keeps you awake at night?
Nothing keeps me awake at night. I recognise the important of sleep and try to get a good night’s sleep. If there is something in my mind preventing me from sleeping, I write it down in a notebook I have next to my bed. That way, I get it out of my head and can find solutions when I wake up.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
I get a thrill within me when I start out with a pregnant woman who is scared that she may lose her baby and I finish working with them and they have just had their baby having trusted their body and used their mind along with the tools I share with them to carry their baby to term. It strengthens my purpose as I too almost lost my baby in pregnancy and had to spend five months hospitalized whilst pregnant
What’s your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement was authoring my first book – Tune In To Your Baby: Because Babies don’t come with an instruction manual. It is a self-help parenting book spanning conception to four years. In it I share professional and personal insights that I gained in my working life as a nurse, midwife, health and parenting coach. Whenever, I get a testimonial for the difference it has made to a parent, student or colleague, my heart sings and I am so grateful I penned it.
Which job would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
A child psychologist. I love children and find how they think fascinating.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
I am a nurse entrepreneur. As a nurse, I believe that caring is my business. I left the NHS because it was becoming very difficult to do my business well. Since, I left, I have been able to truly care for those I serve. One of my goals is to help other nurses to take the plunge into nurse entrepreneurship. In five years I would be supporting more nurses to do so.
What do you think makes a good nurse?
Empathy and resilience makes a good nurse. As a nurse I have been privileged to work in different specialties. What has helped me truly care for people is my ability to imagine their lived experience without owning their problems.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
Develop strong nurse leadership. Train more nurses who truly have patients/clients’ interests at heart to lead the profession.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
I am a single parent. As such my weekend revolves around my 11-year old son. An ideal weekend would be one where we both get rejuvenated. A weekend that involves pampering in a spa, good food, lovely scenery, the sea and football would both tick our boxes.
If you could spend an hour with a famous or notable person, who would it be and why?
Nelson Mandela. His resilience and courage in not conforming but resisting and fighting apartheid, what many in his time just endured. He spent 27 years in prison, but used his experiences to become a stronger man rather than a bitter and broken man despite his unjust treatment. The manner in which he led. According to him he led from the front, but did not leave his base behind.
He also led from the back and let others believe they were in front. But most importantly, he played for the long run always stating that “Things will be better in the long run” but not waiting for them to just happen that way, doing everything he could to ensure so. An article I read about him many years ago empowered me to leave the NHS. In it he stated that quitting is leading too; knowing how to abandon a failed idea, task or relationship is often the most difficult kind of decision a leader has to make.
Although I no longer work for the NHS, I am still able to make a difference to nurses that work in it through training, coaching, mentoring and writing for publication. I am hoping to leave a legacy for the nursing profession by the way I lead my professional life.
You’re shortlisted in Black British Business Awards. Tell us more…
Although I have been conferred with several nursing awards, I am excited that I have been shortlisted for The Black British Business Awards. This list recognises the trailblazers and rising stars that represent the very best talent in UK plc. The BBBAwards launched in 2014 as the only premium awards programme which recognises and celebrates the exceptional performance and outstanding achievements of black entrepreneurs and professionals throughout Britain.
For me it validates my belief that nurses can be entrepreneurs. Nurses, health visitors and other community practitioners do fantastic work caring for people from in utero to the grave, in sickness, difficult circumstances, during challenging transitions, etc. They are often very passionate individuals but do not get showcased and celebrated enough.
Having had very challenging circumstances in pregnancy and almost lost my baby, it was my health visitor that supported me with my premature infant following a relationship breakdown in pregnancy. She was indeed my life saver. I feel very grateful to have received this support when I most needed it.
As such, it is my life’s purpose to ensure that as many pregnant women as possible feel supported. I am on a mission to equip and empower as many pregnant women as I can to grow and raise happy babies because I totally believe that the happiest babies are made on the inside.
A secondary mission of mine is to encourage my passionate colleagues to find their purpose and live it. I am hoping that I am leaving a model for my colleagues to follow. I am an ordinary black, single parent that is passionate about parenting from conception. Nothing is extraordinary about me except my vision and mission. I want my colleagues to know that they too can have big dreams and make them come true.