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Sally Bassett is Chair of the RCN's Nurses in Management and Leadership Forum, and Chair of Forum Chairs. She’s also a senior lecturer in the psychology and continuing professional development department at Oxford Brookes University and is doing a nursing doctorate. While the experience that comes from her active role is supporting her job and degree, it’s also helping advance nursing practice. 

Sally joined the RCN in the early eighties as a student nurse, and soon into her membership became a student steward. “It was an absolutely brilliant experience because it provided me with all sorts of training and development. I think that was some of the best managerial training I’ve ever had. I learned skills such as negotiating and influencing, which are all positive nursing skills, and particularly useful in a leadership role,” she says.

It’s an excellent way to stay connected and active within nursing and the profession

Later in her career, Sally became a nurse advisor at the Department of Health and then a director in a consultancy firm but was really keen to stay rooted in nursing. That’s when she joined the Nurses in Management and Leadership Forum steering committee. “It gave me the credibility to still be able to draw on my nursing service experience, even though I wasn’t working in the health care service at the time,” she says. “It’s an excellent way to stay connected and active within nursing and the profession.”

Making a difference

Being on the steering committee gave Sally the motivation to step up and do even more, and she put herself forward to be Chair of Forum Chairs. “I liked working with the other forum chairs to promote the contribution members can make to shaping professional practice, as an ambassador for the whole forum community and the extra responsibility you have, it’s important to have the support of your colleagues  she says. 

For a while, Sally didn’t consider herself an “activist”, she admits. “I had quite a narrow view of what that meant, and only associated it with trade unionism. But, when I became more involved with the RCN, I realised what I was doing was activist work. Through my forum work, I’m developing practice, finding and using best evidence, and sharing this to inform others so they can develop their ways of working. This has a direct effect on patients’ lives,” she says. 

“We’re all in this profession to make a difference,” she explains. “You can do this through direct delivery of care, but the RCN provides a vehicle to advance the profession and therefore improve the care of people too. You can contribute towards that, while developing your career, skills and network at the same time.”

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