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ROLE MODEL

Leadership for better care

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Lyndsay Short’s leadership academy role means more nurses each year gain the skills to make a difference

At 17 years of age, Lyndsay Short lost her seven-year-old brother to a benign brain tumour because he had not been diagnosed by several professionals. It wasn’t just the loss that inspired her to become a nurse - it was the impact his key nurse had on her family that made her realise she had a desire to help others during tough times.

“Through the black times, one nurse showed me the value of truly great nursing and it inspired me to become a nurse to help others in difficult times and to help improve the healthcare system for future patients and relatives.

“I feel very strongly about developing a compassionate culture, good leadership and safe healthcare because of what I experienced.”

She is now deputy director at the East Midlands Leadership Academy, the first person in the role. Here, she is fulfilling her desire to improve the healthcare system. Her vision is to make the NHS better for patients.

“The patient is at the heart of leadership development,” Ms Short says. “The reason we do this is to improve the patient’s journey.”

The leadership academy provides programmes for healthcare staff on leadership skills at different levels; it also brings together people in the East Midlands to share experiences and best practice. Academy members include healthcare providers, CCGs and public health departments.

The academy offers over 40 programmes a year. They cover issues including developing resilience, managing change and developing integrated systems leadership; executive coaching is also provided.

“It’s absolutely critical to develop leadership,” Ms Short says. “Every person in an organisation needs to know how to be inclusive, compassionate and how to improve the patient experience.”

She says a nurse with great leadership skills will have a compassionate outlook and know what matters.

“Often, as nurses, the dissatisfaction that we feel is a result of when we can’t give the level of care we want to give - great leadership skills mean that every nurse can do something about it and can really make a difference,” Ms Short says.

In 2009, when the academy opened, she began as a part-time academy associate while working in another community role for leadership development and staff engagement. That year, the academy had only five employees and 683 people accessed development opportunities.

Two years later, she got the deputy director role.

The academy has grown substantially. Now, there is a staff of 16 and 5,282 people took up opportunities in the last financial year, making a participation increase of 20-30% year on year.

“I think our academy is unique in our focus on inclusion and patient and public involvement,” Ms Short says.

She stresses the importance of creating a compassionate culture that values patients as individuals, not conditions. This is the legacy she wants to leave.

Ms Short is still a nurse. She contributes to patient care though in different ways, and is upset when people say she isn’t a nurse because she works in an office. She says it is important not to discount those who work in different ways in the nursing profession.

“I’m proud to continue to advocate for patients in the same way I did when I was a frontline nurse,” she says.

It’s not just patients who Ms Short’s programmes help. They build confidence in health professionals. She says people go through leadership development programmes and sometimes end up presenting to chief executives.

“I spend my days sourcing and delivering training programmes that give people the knowledge, skills and most importantly confidence to be able to think differently about how we do healthcare and make a difference to our services,” she says. “That is what I find really rewarding.”

Ms Short says she can see herself going back to an acute hospital in a director position.

“I can do more for people in those sorts of roles,” she says. “I really enjoy being a nurse and being on the frontline but for now this is the way my career has gone.”

Sara Barber

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Readers' comments (1)

  • tinkerbell

    I agree, role models, especially in compassionate leadership are vital. Managers should lead by example and have compassion for their frontline staff. Most front line nurses are dedicated and compassionate and come into nursing to help others. It doesn't make a caring, committed, compassionate nurses life any easier if they are managed by disconnected, uncaring management who view their staff not as human beings made of flesh and bone but a number on the off duty that they can work to death. Start with management setting a good example towards their staff, the majority of frontline staff who already lead by example day in and day out will feel valued.

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