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“I want what's best for members. If that means standing up and shouting from the rooftops, then that's what I'll do,” says Carol Popplestone, recently re-elected Chair of RCN Council. 

While Carol has been the interim Chair of Council since July 2021, she feels “really honoured” that she has been re-elected as Chair. She has been a registered nurse since 1978, and currently works as a clinical nurse specialist for Macmillan Cancer Support, developing and providing a nurse-led service for patients with urological cancers. She is also an accredited RCN steward.

So, what keeps inspiring her to do more for members, alongside her busy day job? “I love my job. I really am so passionate about my role as a clinical nurse specialist. My patients are my number one priority, but I really enjoy the RCN work as well. I like to think I've made a difference to a member’s life, making their working life better. I want them to know that there's somebody who's going to fight their corner, and I do put up a fight,” she explains.

What makes a great Chair?

Communication is key, Carol says, and her career experiences have helped her refine this skill. “I speak to a lot of patients, and sometimes have to deliver bad news, so knowing how to communicate well is an important ability,” she says. “I would also consider myself a fair person. I treat people as equals and include everyone.” 

Over the past few weeks, Carol has been getting to know Council members closely, holding one-on-ones with each member and finding out what their development needs are. “For me to be successful in this role, my Council colleagues must also progress, and I can help them with that.”

Carol also believes having empathy and compassion for members is an important part of her role. “I want them to know that I’m there with them. I know what they’re going through because I also go through it every day working on the wards. It’s great to have someone leading Council who knows what it’s like to currently work in the health service,” she says.

Priorities for her term

Carol believes the most important function of RCN Council is to govern the organisation and “show that we have true leadership and that we're not scared of making decisions”.

Reflecting on and modifying the culture within the RCN is one of Carol’s top priorities for her term of office, which runs until 31 December 2023. “This means providing stability for our members. I want members to know that we're listening to them, and we're taking on board what they're saying to make the RCN an organisation we’re all proud to be part of,” she says.

She's also working to ensure that Council members are developing and have the tools they need to flourish. But, most of all, she wants members to feel they can speak to her. “I want to be seen as an approachable figurehead of the RCN. I want members to know they can speak to me and if they need my help or advice, I will always point them in the right direction.”

Carol wants Council and the RCN to be truly member-led, and transparent. “If a member wants to observe a Council meeting, they are very welcome to. They have a right to know what we do and what we are discussing,” she says.

Her ultimate goal for her time on Council is to “do what’s right.” She says: “That’s my life philosophy”.  

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