As I firm up these plans for leaving the RCN early next year, I am hopeful that a number of senior nurses will see the role of RCN Scotland Director as the right next career move for them and throw their hat into the ring.
If someone asked me what I have learned from my 14 years at the RCN about the role of RCN Scotland Director, I would answer that four main areas are essential to doing the job well.
You need a passion for nursing, to be able to demonstrate that you understand and value the wide and varied roles of nursing staff across the NHS and independent sector and their unique professional contribution to the health and wellbeing of the nation.
You need to focus on relationship building with – and it’s a long list - politicians, civil servants and employers, other royal colleges, trade unions, representative bodies, third sector organisations, RCN colleagues across the UK, and most important of all, with our members.
Our members need to know that you are accessible, that you will listen and act on their behalf to make a real difference for nursing. To me it was the part of the job I looked forward to the most – getting out and having conversations with health care support workers, care assistants, nursing students, nurses and nurse leaders – and it was a great disappointment that I had to cancel the visits planned for this year.
While the title is Scotland Director the role has leadership responsibilities that extend across the UK, providing opportunities to work closely with RCN Executive team and RCN Council colleagues to share learning and experiences and shape the wider work of the RCN. I have found my UK role leading the safe staffing campaign and development of our independent sector strategy some of my most rewarding.
Finally, you have to have courage, be brave enough to challenge, to say what others are only thinking and to be clear on the needs of the nursing profession. But, at times, you also need to change path or tactics when progress isn’t going as planned.
The Royal College of Nursing is the voice of nursing and I have been privileged to lead the RCN in Scotland these past 14 years. I look forward to handing over that role and to watching the RCN continue to speak up for nursing staff across Scotland.