Midlands trials ‘tailor-made’ leadership course for ethnic minority nurses and midwives

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A tailored program has been created to enhance the leadership skills of ethnic minority nurses and midwives looking to take the next steps in their careers. Nursing schedules spoke to the nurse responsible for the initiative and to some of the participants.

It was while taking a national leadership course herself that Miriam Coffie, deputy director of nursing for NHS England and the Midlands Region of Improvement, started thinking about creating her own course. “I was lucky enough to get a place in an aspiring deputy director of nursing program, which was sponsored by the NHS,” she said. But it made her wonder what was being done in her own area to help ethnic minority staff get promoted and what was being done for staff below her level.

‘We have a real staff shortage, in the Midlands region, at around Band 6 onwards from ethnic minorities,’ she noted.

After approaching the national teams and looking at what was already provided, such as the Ready Now and Stepping Up programmes, Ms Coffie concluded that there was nothing tailor-made enough for mid-level staff who were just starting out. or second steps to leadership and leadership positions.

“It made me want to create change in my organization”

Pooja Shah

Subsequently, Ms Coffie’s team, along with the Midlands Chief Nursing Officer, the Ethnic Minority Delivery Region’s Chief Midwifery Delivery Group and the Midlands Leadership and Lifelong Learning Academy, worked together to offer a “holistic” and “different” program. What they created was the Developing Aspirant Ethnic Minority Nursing and Midwifery Leaders (DAL) program. In December 2020 it was approved for its first deployment, subject to finalizing details, and it is currently being tested in the Midlands.

Miriam Coffie

Ms. Coffie had more than her own personal experience to highlight the lack of representation at senior levels. The DAL program application package highlights the research into the problem that has been carried out across the UK. As an example, the 2019 Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) report, which compares the diversity levels of NHS organisations, found that the combined ethnic minority workforce in trusts and commissioning groups clinic accounted for 19.7% of the total workforce. However, it showed that this group was overrepresented in group 5, at 24.5%, but underrepresented from there – 17% in group 6, 14.4% in group 7, 13.5% in group 8a and ending at 6.5% in very senior management.

The pack also cites the seminal report from 2014, NHS Snowy White Peaksin which Roger Kline identified discrimination in leadership and its potentially negative impact on patient care.

When creating the DAL program, Ms. Coffie and her team were mindful not to just create another leadership program, but to really “think about tailored elements that would really help support staff take on higher leadership roles. “. Accordingly, the program has sponsors who are senior leaders from ethnic minorities and contains clinical, non-clinical and academic masterclasses. It combines formal learning from the NHS Leadership Academy’s Mary Seacole programme, with activities specific to nursing and midwifery, including clinical masterclasses and sessions on financial management.

There are also courses on impostor syndrome, which people from ethnic minority groups are very susceptible to, coaching courses designed by an ethnic minority nurse and, most importantly, executive sponsorships – an important part of the design. This means that each participant is assigned an executive-level sponsor to provide them with opportunities such as shadowing at the board level and supporting them during program assignments.

Additionally, there is a long-term leadership assignment – ​​a written assignment supported by the participant’s parent organization – as well as self-reflection and talent management courses covering interview techniques and preparing supporting statements. .

Ms. Coffie noted that there had been various discussions about which band the program should be for. In the end, it was decided to target bands 6 to 8a. The first pilot started in the summer of 2021 with 22 participants. Seven of them spoke to Nursing schedules on their experience so far.

“There is a collective responsibility and as a senior black official I have a sense of individual responsibility because you know I am one of the few people in my position”

Miriam Coffie

Common benefits they mentioned included gained self-confidence: each participant now felt empowered to speak up and had greater impact and influence in their workplace. Many said they now speak to senior managers about action plans that need to be designed to improve diversity in their own organizations, which they would not have had the confidence to do before taking the course. They also mentioned the benefit of having a new network of colleagues, senior leaders and mentors.

One criticism was the pace of the year-long course and the time constraints to do all the work. Participants commit to a minimum of 23 days per year for external study and one flexible day per week for leadership assignment, while the rest of the week is dedicated to their nursing role. They were also working during a time of pressures on staff caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which also meant that lessons were delivered online. Some participants wished they could attend the classes in person, but overall the feedback was very positive.

Pooja Shah, a midwife at University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust, said the course had taken over her life in a positive way. She is one of the participants now speaking to senior executives about what should be done to improve diversity in her own workplace. “It made me want to create change in my organization,” she said. “Midwifery is very underrepresented at senior management level and this course has made me very capable of challenging that, which I never would have done before. It gave me the courage and the knowledge to go ahead with an idea.

Jordana Wright, an advanced nurse practitioner at Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust, said hearing the stories of fellow attendees, as well as senior leaders, taught her a lot. “It is truly inspiring to hear what we could achieve and what a difference we could make to the NHS in such leadership positions. It made me want to change things and connect to networks.

Amy Morrison, a public health nurse at Leicestershire Partnership Trust, said she was starting to feel some pushback as she put her new skills into action, but noted how important this “safe space” was.

“One of the best things I’ve learned is the network, these guys; listen to people who have been through similar situations, felt the same and have this safe space to explore things,” she said. “I hadn’t even noticed that everyone on my team was white except me, so that [course] gave space to have different conversations.

“I’m changing the way I work and getting that confidence back,” she said. “I’m probably feeling a little resistance. Part of the language I come out with now, people say “oh, I can tell you’re taking a leadership course.”

Meanwhile, Kay Khan, a midwife from the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network, said she was now applying for promotion and showing up for opportunities more often. She said: “What I found while doing the course was encouragement, both from the cohort but surprisingly from my sponsor. It gave me this new confidence that I can do more, so I applied for another promotion.

Nina Jaspal, a cardiology nurse practitioner at Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust University Hospitals, was also applying for more senior roles now. She said, “The support and network I’ve built through this group, this course, has given me the confidence to apply for other roles and be successful in other roles.”

“I hadn’t even noticed that everyone on my team was white except me, so that [course] gave space to have different conversations”

Amy Morrison

Jaspreet Garcha, a midwife with the same confidence, said: “This course has definitely been life changing and transforming. Everyone noticed a difference in me and the way I present myself and my leadership. I was able to identify things that I would not have before.

Ms Garcha, like Ms Shah, was now speaking out about diversity and representation issues at her own hospital. “I tried to implement some changes and recommendations,” she said.

Karl Archer, a mental health nurse at Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, said the course gave him a more motivated and proactive attitude and changed his career prospects. He, like the others, was now taking steps to progress and move forward and upward. “It’s about realizing that I also deserve these opportunities and considering moving forward,” he said. “I was happy with my job, but the course taught me a lot about leaders and about myself, how I behave and how I react.”

Ms Coffie stressed the personal importance that creating and delivering the program meant to her, and said she considered it her responsibility as a black person in a leadership position to keep the door open to others.

“There is a collective responsibility and as a high-ranking black leader, I have a sense of individual responsibility because you know, I’m one of the few people in my position,” she said. declared.

“I’m grateful for where I came from,” she added, “but I’ve worked really hard, like so many other people have too. They just want a little more fairness and it’s my personal responsibility, I think, even though it shouldn’t be. It’s my personal point of view, my ethical point of view. I see inequalities and, as a role model, I have to do something thing about it.

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