Nicola’s involvement in the National Junior Leadership academy made her realise how badly the definition of leaders in the health service needs updating
At university, I never saw myself as a leader.
But when I was given the opportunity to apply for the National Junior Leadership academy, I looked back and reflected on my university life and people’s perceptions of my strengths, and realised leadership qualities were highlighted.
Being involved in the NJLA has opened my eyes to leadership. When we discussed leadership in lectures, it was never considered that we may have the potential of leadership above managing the ward, and leadership was more to do with job description.
But we need to change this mindset: leadership is a team effort leading from the inside out or the bottom up.
As a student nurse, have you ever considered leadership?
I’d always held the perception that leadership was more about dictatorship and the perception of a leader needed to be someone who had worked their way up within a company through job progression.
But if I suggested to you that we all lead on a daily basis and we have the potential to change our work place for the better, would you consider yourself as a leader?
Leading does not necessarily mean managing a large corporate team. It can be demonstrated through our daily practices as student nurses through leading by example, demonstrating high levels of care to our patients. Showing our colleagues new working practices and ideas and having the confidence to develop systems to help and improve quality of care; this is new leadership.
I believe innovation and communication are key to improving the NHS. With recent reports, such as Francis (2013) and Keogh (2013) highlighting disengagement and dissatisfaction, we have to face the suggestion that culture change is needed to improve the quality of the NHS.
So why, as students, can we not approach our workplace and ask to be involved with this change and new innovations?
We spend the majority of our time listening and doing, we are a useful resource that can be used to help develop the changing NHS. We are new to the environment and this can be a positive attribute, as we are not conditioned to the “we have always done this this way attitude”. Therefore, we should promote new ideas and we should be recognised and included to be able to do this.
My experience has taught me if you don’t ask the questions you will never know the answer. If you don’t raise the issue, how will it ever be addressed?
Encourage fellow students to actively lead by demonstrating these skills, assert yourself, show your potential, and make the change.
What would you like to change?
Nicola Pountney is in her third year studying adult nursing at Wolverhampton University